Management of unprecedented influx to nature attractions in the Nordic countries: paradoxes and dilemmas related to the principles of the public right of access
Recent developments within tourism have resulted in unprecedented influx of visitors to particular nature attractions in the Nordic countries and elsewhere. The results are in many cases unsustainable pressure on nature resources and biodiversity, reduced personal safety related to strenuous nature visitation by unexperienced and unskilled guests, and various kinds of conflicts of interests between actors who are involved in or affected by tourism. While the volume of visitation can be regulated by indirect means, such as limiting the availability of facilities (parking, accommodation, guiding etc.), it can also be controlled more directly by the use of instruments such as physical barriers and entrance fees. In the Nordic countries, the latter represents particular challenges, due to how the freedom to roam and traditional open access have been transformed into general public rights. In political or moral terms, restricting access can even be opposed with references to established socio-cultural practices, within which the legal principles of public rights of access are performed. Among policy makers, managers and tourism business, as well as NGOs representing outdoor recreations or environmental concerns, bewilderment and disagreement seem to exist on how to cope with the new situation. This session aims at exploring the unprecedented increase in visitation to various nature areas and sites, the sustainability problems that this may result in, and the ways in which management policies in the various Nordic contexts, as well as in other parts of the world, encounter dilemmas and paradoxes in face of legal restrictions and established socio-cultural practices.