University of Oulu

Jarkko Saarinen & Alix Varnajot (2019) The Arctic in tourism: complementing and contesting perspectives on tourism in the Arctic, Polar Geography, 42:2, 109-124, DOI: 10.1080/1088937X.2019.1578287

The Arctic in tourism : complementing and contesting perspectives on tourism in the Arctic

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Author: Saarinen, Jarkko1,2; Varnajot, Alix1
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg South Africa
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-01-08


The economic and political importance of the Arctic has grown considerably in recent decades, and the region’s role and visibility in tourism has also significantly increased. The idea of Arctic tourism has been discussed in academia for a long time, but there is no consensus on the definition of the concept. This review paper aims to discuss different perspectives on tourism in the Arctic by utilizing literature and selected examples. The outlined perspectives are spatial, produced and experienced Arctic tourism. They are interrelated and, thus, partly complementary, but they can also challenge each other. The perspectives demonstrate different ways to approach and understand various characteristics of Arctic tourism and diversity in tourism in the Arctic. All perspectives of the Arctic in tourism involve both benefits and limitations when thinking about what Arctic tourism is and what it involves. The paper concludes that there is a need to acknowledge the diversity of the Arctic as a changing idea and a geographical region in and for tourism. By acknowledging this, the Arctic would not be characterized mainly by static or external views in tourism but also by internal needs, knowledge, dynamics and concerns for sustainable tourism development in the region.

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Series: Polar geography
ISSN: 1088-937X
ISSN-E: 1939-0513
ISSN-L: 1088-937X
Volume: 42
Issue: 2
Pages: 109 - 124
DOI: 10.1080/1088937X.2019.1578287
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: This work was supported by Kulttuurin ja Yhteiskunnan Tutkimuksen Toimikunta [grant number 307348].
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 307348
Detailed Information: 307348 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Polar geography on 12 Feb 2019, available online: