Resort-oriented tourism development and local tourism networks – a case study from northern Finland
In tourism studies, it has been widely recognized that resort-oriented tourism development creates challenges for regional development, mainly due to its enclave nature and lack of regional economic linkages. However, there have been relatively few studies on the destination-scale cooperative networks, although, they are vital in increasing the positive regional economic impacts of tourism development. This paper is an empirical qualitative study exploring the connections between resort-oriented tourism development and tourism business cooperation in the case study area of the Ruka-Kuusamo tourism destination in Northeast Finland. The interest is on how the local cooperative networks of the Ruka tourist resort are spatially constructed within the Ruka-Kuusamo tourism destination. The research data consists of semi-structured interviews conducted for ten tourism actors located in the Ruka resort. The results show that the businesses located in the Ruka resort cooperate at the regional scale mainly in marketing, while their partners in production cooperation are located mostly within the resort, particularly in its very core area. The resort appears to function as a basis for spatial identification for tourism actors, which, in turn, affects entrepreneurs’ motivation to cooperate at the local and regional scale. Tourism entrepreneurs operating in the very core of the resort perceive the area as the principal area for their operations, and therefore, they do not particularly engage with the surrounding areas and businesses or with other actors located there. Thus, for smaller enterprises outside the core, it can be difficult to benefit from the resort’s core’s growth via network relations. This contributes mainly to the development of the core areas alone, creates challenges for sustainable regional economic development in the destination region, and hinders the resort’s tourism growth in the long run.
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