University of Eastern Finland
Second homes, Public discourse, National landscape, Contested landscapes, International second home tourism, Foreign second home ownership
Cross-border and international second home ownership is a worldwide phenomenon and growing in popularity as people seek for desirable environments further away than before. As the desired landscapes are also likely to possess a considerable local and national value, research is needed to find out how host societies perceive and receive the newcomers. This paper explores the Finnish public debate on foreign second home ownership from 1990 to 2008, a period that has witnessed a considerable growth in foreign property ownership. The paper uses the concept of cottage landscape to analyse how second homes are positioned nationally and how foreign second home ownership is debated in relation to the national definitions and valuations. Based on changing emphases and fears related to the phenomenon, three periods of public debate are distinguished. The results demonstrate the iconic image of cottage landscape in the Finnish society by showing how foreign second home ownership is perceived as a threat to the Finnish way of life, landownership rights and national identity. From the perspective of the host society, foreign second home ownership is a complicated and emotional matter with potential to arise opposition and even conflicts when the foreign demand focuses on locally or nationally valued landscapes. Therefore research on the internationalisation of second home ownership can no longer ignore the perspective of the host society.