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Multiculturalism in place and destination development of rural communities

Conference contribution
Authors Eva Maria Jernsand
Helena Kraff
Published in 28th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research, 23-25 October 2019, Roskilde University, Denmark
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Centre for Tourism
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Language en
Keywords multiculturalism, integration, destination development, participatory design
Subject categories Design, Business Administration


Many rural communities have in common the trend of shrinking agricultural and fishing sectors and transformation of local industries. As a consequence, rural communities and municipalities face outmigration, which results in declining tax income as well as reduced physical infrastructure and welfare services. A long-term population reduction may also affect the function of the municipality as a democratic arena and community builder (Syssner & Olausson, 2015). One of the opportunities commonly proposed for revitalization and development of rural territories is to engage in the tourism sector (Dana, Gurau & Lasch, 2014). Tourism does not create economic wealth by itself, but provides potential for local administration and entrepreneurs to explore and tap into new possibilities (Beeton, 2002; Dana et al, 2014; Wilson et al, 2001). Other prospects for revival lie in the influx of refugees and other migrants. These provide positive contributions to the economy in the forms of, for instance, new markets for products and services, and a decrease in the average age of the population. A varied population composition also adds to the cultural diversity of places, leading to multiple dimensions and identities. Further, it could be argued that to be able to build resilient communities, it is important to involve a diverse subset of the population in place development, not least from an integration perspective. However, there are few examples of place and destination development projects that take the multicultural setup of our contemporary societies into consideration through participation and representation. The purpose of this paper is to explore opportunities and challenges that lie in participatory development of rural places and destinations. The research derives from a summer project in Dals-Långed, Sweden, where students, civil society and other local actors collaborate for spatial place development. The project aims to embrace cultural diversity and integration through co-creative designing and building of common facilities such as a sauna, an outdoor kitchen, and a vegetable and flower garden, which will serve as meeting places for groups in the community who otherwise would not interact. In this recurring annual project, researchers work in collaboration with project management and local stakeholders in an action-oriented manner. The empirical material is retrieved through interviews, participatory observations, photos, as well as sketches and visual diaries from participants and students. Preliminary findings show that students and members of the local community interact with each other, although the multicultural aspect is not as prevalent as was hoped for. The building structures are used by students and those who have lived for a long time in the community, but not so much by newcomers. Furthermore, the participatory parts of the project are only conducted in short sequences, not throughout the process. However, the fact that the project is annually recurring means that there is space for critical evaluation and reformulations of plans.

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