Developing indigenous tourism : Visiting the Sami people of Northern Sweden


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Publication Details

Subtitle: Visiting the Sami people of Northern Sweden


Publisher: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG

Place: Saarbrücken

Publication year: 2009

ISBN: 978-3-639-16938-6


Revised version of PhD-thesis: Sami tourism in Northern Sweden: supply, demand and interaction, by R. Pettersson (2004). Etour Scientific Book Series V 2004:14. ISBN: 91-974657-2-0.

Indigenous tourism is an expansive sector in the growing tourism industry. The Sami people living in Sápmi in northern Europe have started to engage in tourism, particularly in view of the rationalised and modernised methods of reindeer herding. Sami tourism offers job opportunities and enables the spreading of information. On the other hand, Sami tourism may jeopardise the indigenous culture and harm the sensitive environment in which the Sami live. The aim of this thesis is to analyse the supply and demand of Sami tourism in northern Sweden. This is presented in four articles, preceded by an introductory section describing the purpose, method, theory, background, empirical evidence, and with a discussion and summaries in English and Swedish.

The first two articles describe Sami tourism from a producer (article I) and a consumer perspective (article II), respectively. The question is to what extent the supply of tourist attractions related to the Swedish Sami corresponds to the demand of the tourists.

The first article analyses the potential of the emerging Sami tourism in Sweden, with special emphasis on the access to Sami tourism products. The analysis is conducted by using the four Hs: habitat, heritage, history and handicrafts, as outlined by V.L. Smith. It is assumed that the potential for tourism development is also dependent on the spatial distribution of the tourist attractions, and therefore a geographical dimension has been added to the four Hs. The study shows that there is a growing supply of tourism activities related to the Swedish Sami. The development of tourism is, however, restricted by factors such as the peripheral location and the lack of traditions of entrepreneurship.

The purpose of the second article is to analyse which factors influence tourists when they make their decisions about Sami tourism. In the article the respondents are requested to answer a number of hypothetical questions, ranking their preferences regarding supply, price and access. The method used for this is the Stated Preference method. The study indicates that tourism related to the Sami and Sami culture has a considerable future potential, but also that there is, in some respects, a gap between supply and demand.

In the two following articles the interaction between the supply and demand of Sami tourism is studied at one of the largest Sami tourism attractions: the 400-year-old annual winter festival in Jokkmokk. The festival is studied in the light of its development over time (article III), and with regard to the Sami representation at the festival (article IV).

In the third article the development of the festival is analysed in a study based on interviews, and a study of the application forms submitted by the tradesmen and festival leaflets from the past decades. The development of tourism at the Sami winter festival in Jokkmokk is compared with tourism development models, e.g. the life cycle model as outlined by Butler. The analysis shows that the festival in Jokkmokk, thanks to continuously added attractions, has been able to retain a rather high level of popularity, despite its peripheral location.

Finally, the fourth article analyses to what extent the winter festival in Jokkmokk is a genuinely indigenous event, and to what extent it is staged. This is done by examining the Sami representation at the festival, with regard to its content and its spatial location, but also regarding Sami representation in media. Using primarily qualitative methods, three festival areas are identified: a commercial trading area, an activity-oriented area and finally a cultural area. It is argued that the indigenous culture presented at the festival and in media is highly staged, although backstage experiences are available for the Sami and for the tourists who show a special interest.


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