A-14/15 Landscapes lost? Tourist understandings of changing Norwegian rural landscapes

Rural landscapes are the product of consumption for increasing numbers of tourists from urban areas. Many Nordic rural landscapes face a situation called spontaneous reforestation: as mowing and grazing have almost come to an end, scrub and trees thrive. The national tourism industry is concerned, leaning on the assumption that well-managed agricultural landscapes are central to Norway's touristic appeal. This article seeks to investigate how tourists understand and make sense of the landscapes they visit. It presents findings from qualitative interviews with 75 domestic and international tourists, conducted in three different study areas in Norway that are prone to spontaneous reforestation. The tourists were asked to describe the surrounding landscape and to reflect upon the meaning of the landscape and the different landscape elements. Manipulated photos of the past and probable future development were brought into the interview to aid reflection. A main finding is that landscape elements that the tourists perceive as threatened seem to be preferred over those experienced as plentiful. Another important finding is how the tourists in our study in different ways tend to make sense of the landscapes they visit through their understanding of their known landscapes. Lastly, we find that understandings of landscape change processes are embedded into wider discourses of nature and culture. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism 15:1-2, s. 29-47

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