For the first time in history, international tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally in 2012. This has had enormous social implications for host communities in destinations worldwide. In rural communities, tourism is rapidly replacing traditional resource extraction industries, an economic development that brings radical social and cultural changes.
Destination development, the production of tourist products and services means commodification and as tourism is international in nature, these are global changes albeit manifested in various ways locally. Contemporary culture especially cultural heritage needs to be understood in the context of tourism.
Tourism itself changes rapidly; the last half century has seen shifting foci from the pursuit of service to experience and presently an interest in the transformative power of tourism consumption for individuals and communities. The tourist is increasingly active in co-creating tourism products and experiences to reflect personal agendas ranging from environmental concerns, community engagement, nature experiences and self actualization to hedonistic consumption. These trends call for a new understanding of tourism as an industry and as a social and cultural phenomenon.
Alternatives like Air B&B, couch surfing and second homes passed in 2014 for the first time hotels as the number one choice of accommodation among international tourists world- wide. Moreover, tourism attractions are getting more and more conceptualized and intertwined with branding processes. Such changes have huge transformative effects and economic implications and lead to a number of innovations both within local communities and the tourism industry itself, as well as have diverse negative impacts if not managed in a sustainable manner. These are issues that are at the core of the research themes and interests that unite the researchers within our research group.
Central concepts in our tourism research projects are life style entrepreneurship, glocalization, new forms of rural/local economy (barter economy, crowdsourcing, etc.), new perspectives on value creation, co-creation and social, economic and cultural innovation and sustainability.
Our team has worked with issues of sustainability, tourism and local economies/communities for the last 15 years and has acquired a substantial body of experience both at the local, national and international level. Our network consists of more than 30 partners in 25 countries.