International lifestyle immigrants and their contributions to rural tourism innovation: Experiences from Sweden's far north

Doris A. Carson, Dean B. Carson

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    This paper discusses the contributions of international lifestyle immigrants to new tourism development and innovation in the sparsely populated north of Sweden. Based on a qualitative case study, the paper examines how lifestyle immigrants contributed as tourism entrepreneurs to the formation of local capital in tourism, and stimulated local learning and innovation spillover through networks of interaction and collaboration. The theoretical framework integrates concepts from rural lifestyle migration, local community development, and local tourism innovation systems. The results document how immigrants emerged as important drivers of new tourism products, processes and markets, and introduced a range of new ideas, skills and external networks to the region. Yet, an in-depth social network analysis reveals that immigrants made more limited contributions to networks, collaborations and knowledge exchange with local tourism stakeholders, thus limiting learning outcomes and innovation spillover at a broader local system level. Reasons for this lack of systemic interaction included socio-cultural distance between immigrants and locals, limited levels of trust and reciprocity, diverging development and lifestyle priorities, and issues around exclusive immigrant networking. Finally, the relevance of the theoretical framework is discussed in relation to its applicability to other immigrant mobilities in sparsely populated rural areas.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)230-240
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


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