Tourism and the public sector

Session in The 26th Nordic Symposium of Tourism and Hospitality Research

Today research addresses tourism mostly as private industry with focus on consumers and products. However, even the public sector has multiple roles in relation to tourism; it acts as regulator, producer and consumer. This is not always acknowledged in the scientific literature. Instead, the role of the public sector seems sometimes to be neglected or toned down. In any case there is a need for more systematic knowledge on the relationship of public sector and tourism.

As regulator government on various level intervenes with free market conditions by setting standards and rules, as expressed in planning and legislation. However, even non–mandatory policies and statements by public stakeholders influence tourism. The public sector acts as producer of tourism, too. Before deregulations in the 1990s, governments had control of transportation through ownership and monopolies.

Today, public sector production of tourism services is more limited, but governments on various levels conduct or support the production of tourism services and the provision of attractions such as protected areas and museums. Moreover, the public sector provides infrastructure necessary for the functioning of the tourism system. Finally, the public sector acts as consumer of tourism services. Academic conferences and other public business travel are examples for that.

This session aims at highlighting the nexus of tourism and public sector. Both theoretical and empirical contributions illustrating and analyzing the public sector within the tourism system and tourism within the public sector, respectively, are welcomed. For example, papers could address;

  • Tourism polices
  • Tourism planning
  • Tourism infrastructure provision
  • Public ownership of tourism facilities
  • Public subsidies for tourism development
  • The role of the public sector in destination development
  • Visa and travel regulations
  • Historical perspective of state involvement in tourism

Dieter K. Müller
Department of Geography and Economic History, Umeå University

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