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International Perspectives on Destination Management and Tourist Experiences

Insights from the International Competence Network of Tourism Research and Education (ICNT)


Edited By Michael Lück, Jarmo Ritalahti and Alexander Scherer

The International Competence Network of Tourism Research and Education (ICNT) covers various areas of research. ICNT’s fourth book offers insights of tourism experts with a wide range of interest and expertise on the way tourism is understood and worked in different countries around the world. The first part of this volume focuses on factors influencing the management of tourism destinations, including competition, controlling, and marketing. An in-depth view into tourist experiences is offered in the second part, with examples ranging from volcano tourism to national park and wildlife tourism, and gastronomic experiences.

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National Parks as Experience Spaces – an Auto-Ethnographic Study in Two Finnish Parks


1.   Introduction

National parks have been founded in most countries, partly in order to preserve natural resources for future generations, and partly to provide recreational areas for both local people and tourists. In Finland, the first national park was established in 1938 after decades of discussions about whether natural resources should be seen as resources for industrial activities or protected as cultural heritage.

At the moment, there are 39 national parks in Finland and their combined area totals around 10,000 square km (Metsähallitus, 2015a). Due to an increased interest in the environment, the number of tourists in the national parks has steadily increased (Puhakka, 2008a). According to a recent Finnish study, visits to national parks have several positive effects on the wellbeing of human beings, such as improved mood and spiritual wellbeing (Kaikkonen et al., 2014).

National parks are typical experience spaces (Hanefors & Mossberg, 2007). As with any tourism destination, national parks comprise an amalgam of different elements (Kim, 2014) such as unique nature and landscape, services such as restaurants, and various activities. Visitors to national parks have different motives for their visit, such as spending time with family and friends or enjoying beautiful landscapes. Each visit to a park will always be different; for instance, the weather will vary and hiking routes will differ in their demands. Thus, national parks as experience spaces can generate different experiences even for people visiting the park at the same time.

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