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Transboundary Collaboration in Tourism: the Case of the Bothnian Arc

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Tourism's relationship to political boundaries has caught the attention of researchers only recently, even though on a more general level the academic study of borders attracts considerable interest. A topic that has been explored only superficially concerns the obstacles inhibiting tourism's development in a cross-border setting and, particularly, the tensions arising when the respective national interests of the two neighbouring countries do not coincide with the mutual benefits to be derived through close transfrontier collaboration at the regional level. An emerging key question is what forces dominate within the region straddling the border between two countries – those dictated by the respective national interests of each country, or those benefiting the transboundary region itself? These issues are explored through an examination of the Bothnian Arc Project, a cross-border collaborative effort between Sweden and Finland. A detailed investigation of the planning process that has been put into effect for developing and marketing this coastal region's tourist product is provided. Among the issues discussed are the attempts on the part of all stakeholders to establish a unifying identity for the region, which will set it aside from other destinations in northern Scandinavia (e.g. Lapland). The focus is on some of the most important challenges lying ahead in terms of developing and marketing this cross-border region as a single destination. Additionally, the investigation shows that even if the border in this region has effectively disappeared, obstacles remain to achieving mutual regional benefits.

Keywords: Bothnian Arc; economic growth; national political interests; transfrontier collaboration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Geology, and Planning, Missouri State University, Springfield, USA 2: Centre for Regional and Tourism Research, Bornholm, Denmark

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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