Thesis defence in the University of Oulu

Doctoral Candidate

Master of Science Outi Kulusjärvi

Faculty and research unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Geography Research Unit

Field of study


Date and time of the thesis defence

12.10.2019 12:00

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, hall L2

Topic of the dissertation

Towards a poststructural political economy of tourism: A critical sustainability perspective on destination development in the Finnish North


Professor Edward Huijbens, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands


Professor Jarkko Saarinen, University of Oulu

Global warming requires changes in tourism destination development

Tourism internationalization and growth have been regarded as central tools for enhancing regional development in sparsely populated areas in northern Finland. A doctoral thesis soon to be defended in the University of Oulu challenges the idea that destination growth is the sign of successful tourism development practices.

In her thesis, tourism geographer Outi Kulusjärvi examines destination development in the Finnish North from the perspective of environmental and social sustainability. To conduct the study, tourism entrepreneurs and developers in the destinations of Ruka and Ylläs were interviewed.

The results show that there exist different ways to utilize natural resources and local cultural environment in the production of tourism services. For some entrepreneurs, tourism is considered as a means to live in the northerns regions by appreciating the local traditions and natural environment. Resort growth and the related local changes do not automatically facilitate the livelihood of these tourism actors.

In addition, the thesis highlights that the actions for sustainability are not enough if they rely on increase in the number of bed-places, international tourist amounts and in air travel. This shows how goals of regional development in northern Finland are partly in conflict with changes required by climate change mitigation.

Tourism actors both in the public and private sectors are expected to recognize the sustainability viewpoints in destination development even more than before. Environmental concerns and social sustainability set new goals also for local tourism cooperation. By increasing local economic linkages, tourism benefist can be distributed among a larger group of actors. In addition, the differing understandings on the desired tourism development should be accounted for in tourism destination networks.

Last updated: 4.10.2019