What started as a bit of experiment in this PhD, exploring how people remembered Svalbard, has turned into a really interesting vein on investigation which I think I’ll be working with some more in the future.
I then had almost a full day in tourism sessions. Given tourism is such a feature of activities in Svalbard, it was great to check out what research is going on in this field at the moment, with the focuses of the sessions on wilderness, nature conservation and arctic tourism – I was definitely in the right place! Michelle Thompson-Fawcett’s presentation on place attachment in Antarctica was a particular highlight. Michelle has been working with glaciologists and other scientists, exploring their relationships to Antarctica, and what this means for consequent actions using dairies, interviews and social media. Again, lots of methodological insights and experience to inspire. Later in this series of sessions, Albina Pashkevich and Olle Stjernstrӧm presented their work so far on tourism in the Russian Arctic, with one of their case studies being Svalbard. So, this was of course extremely interesting and I gained some new perspectives on how tourism is developing and the problems, barriers and potential benefits this brings. This work is part of a wider MISTRA arctic futures project on tourism: ‘From Resource Hinterland to Global Pleasure Periphery’, which has wider findings I’ll be reading up on as more publications come out from that.
Finally Jarkko Saarinen ended the day with a keynote lecture on ‘Responsible geographies of global tourism’. This seemed to me to fill in the missing links between environmental thinking, in which transport emissions and policies are a key factor; ‘sustainable’ tourism, where travel to destinations is often ignored; and tourism as a development strategy, in which the benefits are often over-played and it is sustaining the industry of tourism itself that becomes the main goal rather than improving well-being.