News 2020

Act Sustainable Research Conference 2020

TiMS researchers presented at this year’s Act Sustainable conference on November 18. Watch the recorded presentation below. You can also find the abstract accompanying their presentation.

Watch Helena, Eva Maria and Emma’s presentation.

Abstract: Conceptualising inclusive tourism and place branding

Helena Kraff, Academy of Art and Design, Faculty of Fine Applied and Performing arts; Eva Maria Jernsand, Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law; Emma Björner, Gothenburg Research Institute, School of Business, Economics and Law .

Keywords: diversity, multiculturalism, inclusive tourism, inclusive place branding


A new conceptualisation of inclusive tourism is emerging. Situated within inclusive development, an ethical perspective on tourism embraces diversity, equality and participation (Sheyvens & Biddulph, 2018, drawing on e.g. Lawson, 2010; UNDP, 2016). With such holistic connotations, inclusive tourism is a response to the fact that large corporations create, market and benefit from products that are only attainable by privileged minorities. Inclusiveness in a tourism context is the opposite of this. People, independent of their ethnicity, gender, class and other social characteristics, should be able to participate in the creation of tourism products and benefit from them, as well as be able to experience them (Scheyvens & Biddulph, 2018). Thus, inclusive tourism means that dominant power relations and top-down approaches are challenged by grass root and bottom-up perspectives and initiatives. From a destination marketing perspective, inclusiveness also means that people living in tourism destinations should be represented in place branding (Kalandides et al., 2013; Zenker & Petersen, 2014). Furthermore, an inclusive view on tourism and place branding recognizes how and under what terms people actually participate in tourism development and place branding (Jernsand, 2016; Jernsand & Kraff, 2017; Kraff, 2018). Inclusive tourism has the potential to strengthen relationships, contribute to intercultural exchanges, and create multidimensional destinations. However, the ethical aims of inclusive tourism needs further investigation. Concept development is yet at an early stage, and studies examining how inclusive tourism takes place in practice are scarse. The research project The Role of Tourism in Multicultural Societies (TiMS) aims to contribute to the conceptualisation of inclusive tourism and place branding, its principles and delimitations.


TiMS builds on empirical investigations that centre on how the plurality of tourism products and destinations are communicated, represented and experienced in terms of e.g. cultures, ethnicity, gender, class and other social characteristics; and on challenges and opportunities met in tourism development processes that aim for diversity, equality and participation. The research is situated mainly in a Swedish context, ranging from the urban to the rural, and is based on multiple methods such as interviews, observations and action-oriented approaches.

Key results/conclusions

The research acknowledges: The difficulties in promoting diversity: There is a risk of stereotypification and exploitation, where multicultural attributes are valued for their difference as opposed to being seen as everybody being multicultural. Tourism as interdependent on place development at large: Public destination management organizations often focus on specific target groups and public-private partnerships, rather than collaborations with other instances of the public sector and smaller units such as community-based organizations. Further, citizen dialogue is a well-known concept in urban planning, yet rarely used in relation to tourism. The multiple actors that together form the place brand: This is an organic and bottom-up process, and without a dominant authority such as a DMO. The findings indicate that for inclusive tourism to live up to its promise, and develop into a just form of sustainable tourism, scholars and industry actors need to engage in critical discussions and procure knowledge regarding its complexity, e.g. historical and contemporary meanings.

Read more about the conference.

Watch webinar from the Swedish Expert Group for Aid Studies

On August 21st, 2020, TiMS researcher Helena Kraff participated in a webinar hosted by the Swedish Expert Group for Aid Studies. Helena’s presentation dealt with resident and local stakeholder participation in development projects which connects to TiMS focus on participatory processes in tourism and place branding. In conjunction with the webinar, EBA published reports written by the presenters. Find Helena’s report on the EBA website.

Watch the webinar (in Swedish) on EBA Sweden’s Youtube channel.

Watch webinar on ecotourism

On September 8, 2020, TiMS researchers and the West Sweden Tourist Board participated in a webinar on ecotourism arranged by Reväst and the Center for Sustainable Development at University West. Contribution from TiMS researchers revolved around the social aspects of ecotourism, particularly community-based tourism (CBT) and social enterprises involved in CBT and labour market integration. The presentation is based on two upcoming articles on the roles these enterprises have in socio-economic development and in a Swedish labour market integration programme.

Watch the webinar (in Swedish) on Reväst’s Youtube channel.

Find the publications

Interesting perspectives on sustainable experiences and Swedish tourism

What is a sustainable experience? This was the focus of a digital workshop that recently gathered key actors with deep knowledge of sustainability and tourism from the business community, the public sector and the academic world. Emma Björner and Eva Maria Jernsand from TiMS participated in the discussion.

Jenny Jonevret from Visit Sweden (which hosted the workshop) opened it and gave some background to the meeting: “Today’s workshop connects to Visit Sweden’s work on developing a sustainability promise for Swedish tourism; a promise that is based on sustainable experiences that can inspire the tourism industry to develop more sustainable products. The intention is also that this sustainability promise can promote sustainable development, create faith in the future and show that solutions exist here and now. It is also about creating a stronger position for Sweden as a destination and about creating a platform for learning, collaboration and cultural exchange.”

A central ambition of the workshop was to discuss and concretise what a sustainable experience is. Emma Björner from the University of Gothenburg facilitated the discussion that focused on what a sustainable experience is from an environmental, social, cultural and economic perspective. The discussion was also lively when it came to a more holistic approach and a focus on how to offer an experience that is sustainable in all dimensions. Marcus Eldh from Wild Sweden emphasized that it can be hard to arrive at an experience that is sustainable in all dimensions, since positive impact on one sustainability dimension often has negative impact on another.

In many ways, the discussion was about creating and moving towards a more sustainable society as well as how sustainable experiences can contribute. Marie Linde from West Sweden Tourist Board highlighted this, and emphasized that it is largely about how we get companies, public organisations and individuals to actually take steps towards a more sustainable society with the help of tourism.

To achieve this, knowledge and learning is central. Eva Maria Jernsand and Maria Persson, from the University of Gothenburg, shared experiences from a project of theirs, which is based on transformative (Mezirow, 2009; Reisinger, 2013, 2015) and experience-based learning (Kolb, 1984). This is largely about the knowledge that visitors, through their experiences, bring with them back home, which can be anything from respect for nature to human rights. The tourism sector can, through their offer, contribute greatly to this learning process.

Several participants emphasized Sweden’s advantage when it comes to environmental and social sustainability. “We have incorporated it into the way we highlight our advantages and in how we promote Sweden abroad”, Cecilia Cassinger from Lund University said. Christina Rådelius from The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth also stressed that Sweden has done and is doing much good that can influence visitors to think and act more sustainably. Other participants accentuated that we, in Sweden, can be more courageous and proactive in highlighting our sustainability work and our sustainable experiences; and that we can focus more on how one can contribute positively. Vanessa Butani from Scandic Hotels spoke on this theme when she suggested that we should talk more about what a sustainable experience is rather than what it is not.

A keyword in the discussion was transformative experiences (Pine & Gilmore, 2011), which may be even more relevant in the current Corona pandemic and in its wake. Other keywords were co-creation and participation, which for example includes involving the local community and various stakeholders in tourism development. ‘Offer’ was suggested as an alternative to the concept of experience, and received a positive response. The ‘experience’ concept was questioned by some, partly due to it being hard to grasp and also due to its subjective character; an experience is often a unique event and it is the tourist or consumer who experiences. The tourism industry can create the conditions for sustainable experiences by creating a sustainable offer and inspire people to become more conscious and aware.

Towards the end of the workshop, Katarina Thorstensson from Göteborg & Co raised some questions that will be important in the work ahead: What is the purpose and what do we want to achieve; who do we address and engage in the discussion? These questions, along with the other valuable reflections that surfaced in the workshop, will be important for Visit Sweden in their continued work on developing a sustainability promise for the Swedish tourism sector. The ambition is also to continue the dialogue on sustainable experiences and related topics together with the public sector, the business community and the academic world.

Workshop participants

  • Christina Rådelius, Project Manager, Sustainable Tourism and Nature Tourism, The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth
  • Marie Linde, Deputy CEO, West Sweden Tourist Board
  • Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism and Sustainability Strategist, Göteborg & Co.
  • Lena Gunnerhed, Travel Insight, Visit Sweden
  • Michael Persson-Gripkow, Brand & Strategic Marketing Officer, Visit Sweden
  • Jenny Jonevret, Senior Project Manager, Visit Sweden
  • Åsa Egrelius, Public Affairs, Visit Sweden
  • Vanessa Butani, Director of Sustainable Business, Scandic Hotels
  • Marcus Eldh, Owner, Wild Sweden
  • Eva Maria Jernsand, Researcher and Lecturer, the Department of Business Administration, the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg
  • Kristina Lindström, Researcher and Lecturer, the Department of Economy and Society, University of Gothenburg
  • Maria Persson, Researcher, the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg
  • Cecilia Cassinger, Associate Professor, the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University
  • Jörgen Eksell, Researcher and Lecturer, the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University
  • Maria Månsson, Researcher and Lecturer, the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University
  • Emma Björner, Researcher and Lecturer, Gothenburg Research Institute, the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg; the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University

Overview: Sustainable experiences in research and practice

Prior to the workshop, the participants were encouraged to take part of Visit Sweden’s ideas on what a sustainable experience could be, as well as an overview including definitions and examples of sustainable experiences in research and practice.


Kolb, D. (1984), Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood CliÚs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Mezirow, J. (2009), “An Overview of Transformative Learning”. In Illeris, K. (Ed.), Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning Theorists … In Their Own Words (pp. 90–105), New York: Routledge.
Pine, B. J., and Gilmore, J. H. (2011), The Experience Economy, Harvard Business Press.
Reisinger, Y. (2013), Transformational Tourism: Tourist Perspectives, Wallingford, UK: CABI.
Reisinger, Y. (2015), Transformational Tourism: Host Perspectives, Wallingford, UK: CABI

Research on the Twitter campaign Curators of Sweden to be presented at digital workshop

At the concluding workshop of Norms and Values in Migration and Integration, a research initiative by IMISCOE, TiMS researcher Sayaka Osanami Törngren is presenting her paper titled Whose Sweden? Communicating Swedish Values through Curators of Sweden.

The Twitter campaign examined in the paper, Curators of Sweden (launched by Visit Sweden and the Swedish Institute), was celebrated as transparent and democratic nation-branding and steered both positive and negative debates in national and international media. According to the campaign all the curators were chosen because they represent ’values, skills and ideas’ which ‘all combined makes up Sweden’.

“Firstly, this article analyses values that drove the campaign and secondly how the 365 curators in the campaign identified and what they associated themselves with. Through this the article explores what kind of Swedish values and images were transmitted and whose Sweden the campaign was portraying,” says Sayaka Osanami Törngren.

The workshop, taking place between May 18 and 19, is held digitally and will see papers presented by researchers from several different universities and with varying disciplinary backgrounds.

Read more about the research initiative on IMISCOE’s website.

TiMS at the 28th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research 2019, Roskilde University

Last week, Eva Maria Jernsand, Emma Björner and Sayaka Osanami Törngren från TiMS participated in the 28th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research 2019, Roskilde University, presenting some of the preliminary results from different cases that the project is looking at.