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The communication, representation and experience of a small community: The case of Dals Långed in Dalsland, Sweden

Conference paper
Authors Emma Björner
Published in 28th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research
Publication year 2019
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Centre for Tourism
Language en
Keywords destination branding, place branding, tourism, small community, representation, communication, experience
Subject categories International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Human Geography, Business Administration


Hospers (2010) criticizes city marketing for being largely focused on attracting new visitors, residents or investors. He argues that local authorities should use different marketing directed to the mentioned target groups, and he concludes that they especially should consider current populations in city marketing and invest in existing residents and firms rather than newcomers. Hospers thus plea for a shift from cold to warm city marketing, and as such a focus on actors that already have emotional and/or socio-economic ties with the municipality (Hospers, 2010). This is in line with the shift towards an increased focus on inclusiveness and participation in place branding (e.g. Jernsand & Kraff, 2015; Kavaratzis, Giovanardi & Lichrou, 2017; Scheyvens & Biddulph, 2017) and thus including the multiple and possibly diverging voices of a place. Failure to do so may result in disaffection, apathy or unmanageable antagonistic clashes (Mouffe, 2013). Oftentimes, city marketing is seen as a powerful tool to attract residents to a place. Simple migration data nevertheless challenges this idea (Hospers, 2010). In the case of Dals Långed, a town in Dalsland, Sweden, a rather large-sized group of residents are students who are attracted to study at the Academy of Design and Art in Steneby, Dals Långed, of which some end up staying after graduating. Dals Långed has also received migrants from Syria during later years, and is a place of immigration and diversity. In the summer time, tourists are attracted to visit the beautiful scenery of Dals Långed. Even though some tourists have travelled far distances, many tourists live nearby and have visited the destination before. In this study, we build on and add to Hospers reasoning. We do this by studying the communication, representation and experience of Dals Långed among more differentiated groups compared to Hospers categories of new visitors, residents and investors. We focus on both a producer and a consumer perspective. From a producer perspective, we look at how Dals Långed, and especially its local actors (e.g. tourist organisations, the municipality and the village community), define and brand Dals Långed. We focus on what is communicated towards various target groups and study the ideas behind the communication. From a consumer perspective we study how the various target groups describe Dals Långed online. We moreover identify the potential gap between the producer and the consumer perspective, and thus how Dals Långed is branded by local actors versus what the target groups communicate and experience. Consequently, in this study we illustrate the multiple identities of Dals Långed and conceptualize how the plurality of this small community is communicated, represented and experienced. We use concepts such as social sustainability, multiculturalism, migration, integration and participation as our lens; concepts that rarely has been associated with tourism and place branding research and practice. A central contribution of this study is that we expand the scope of Hospers’ (2010) study to also consider additional categories and target groups. We also develop ideas regarding how Dals Långed, and other small communities, can benefit from engaging in warm city marketing and inclusive place branding.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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