Kristín Rut Kristjánsdóttir
Tourist destinations in the Arctic regions are dependent on very fragile ecosystems and distinctive cultures. Therefore it is crucial that sustainability principles are included in tourism development. This participatory action research, conducted with a transdisciplinary approach to tourism studies and sustainability science, illustrates how tourist hosts in a rural community in northern Sweden perceive their possibilities of producing shared sustainable benefits for their community. Micro-situational variables were identified with in-depth interviews and broader contextual variables were identified with qualitative participatory system analysis. The themes that emerged from these methods were analyzed with the framework of conditional cooperation for sustainable use of common pool resources. The study concluded that the level of cooperation is beneficial and thus tourism can function as the empowerment needed to activate drivers for sustainable development at a community level. The participants are learning and are reciprocal in developing a practice that is both environmentally and socially sustainable for the community. They are adapting to limiting infrastructural and social conditions and are confident that others in the community commit equally to meeting these challenges. Together they create community capital in projects and initiatives that create net benefits in the community. The main driver of this reinforcing relationship is the common interest of being able to continue living in their community and continue working with tourism. Standardization and centralization in national and municipal policies are the main limiting factors for sustainable development of this peripheral community, and for sustainable development of tourism as an employing industry in this area.