Attractivity in the Periphery – Opportunities for the Tourism Industry in Vulnerable Areas

Cecilia Cassinger, PhD in Business Administration and Associate Professor at the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University

What is the aim of project?
”We will examine the conditions and opportunities for the tourism industry to make a positive contribution to vulnerable areas. The central question is how tourism can enhance the attractiveness of these areas in a socially sustainable way”. What are the challenges? How can conflicts of interest between residents and visitors be managed?

Why is research needed in this field?
”In recent years, several destination companies, such as Göteborg & Co and Visit Stockholm, have redefined their mission to include social sustainability. This means broadening their geographical scope to include vulnerable areas as tourist destinations. On the face of it, this is an excellent strategy. With more visitors, the geographical and social isolation of such areas can be reduced, and the local economy can be boosted. At the same time, balancing the expansion of the tourism industry with the interests of local people is a complex issue. Risks can include creating exoticism, encouraging commercialisation, and exploiting people’s daily lives.

How will the hospitality industry benefit from the research?
”One of the aims of the project is to broaden the concept of tourism in Sweden and to highlight the role of the hospitality industry in upgrading disadvantaged and stigmatised areas. Tourism is rarely described as an important industry for social development. In the past, we have looked at overtourism and destinations that have become so popular that they are struggling to cope with the high number of visitors. This time, however, we are looking at the opposite scenario. Vulnerable areas are often perceived as unsafe and therefore struggle to attract visitors. Many local interventions and initiatives are already underway to promote development in these areas. Tourism operators arguably could have an even greater impact and contribute to positive change.

What is your approach?
”We will follow projects and initiatives aimed at strengthening the hospitality industry in a number of disadvantaged areas in Stockholm (Rinkeby), Botkyrka (Fittja, Alby and Hallunda), Gothenburg (Gårdsten, Hammarkullen and Lövgärdet) and Helsingborg (Drottninghög and the inner-city district of Söder).

”We plan to interview property owners, tourism operators, social and commercial entrepreneurs and municipal project managers to explore the challenges and examine both successful and less successful initiatives. We will also ask residents for their views on previous interventions. We will use a form of participatory research as our methodology, as well as ’walking methods’ where we talk to local business owners and residents to build up an inventory of the area. We will also conduct in-depth interviews with a sample of relevant stakeholders.

What challenges do you foresee?
”Our greatest challenge will probably be to identify and contact the right people in these areas. Another challenge is the potential mistrust of people from outside the area, which can mean a reluctance to share experiences”.

What outcomes do you hope for?
”Knowledge about tourism and destination development in vulnerable areas is limited, especially in the Nordic context. We hope to contribute with useful examples, innovations and new knowledge that can form the basis for recommendations and policymaking within the Swedish hospitality industry. Our plan is to summarise the results in a book and to present them in scientific journals”

Reference group
Botkyrka municipality, Helsingborgshem, Göteborg Citysamverkan and Public Housing Sweden

Cecilia Cassinger, PhD in Business Administration specialising in Marketing and Associate Professor at the Department of Strategic Communication;
Ola Thufvesson, PhD in Human Geography, Department of Service Sciences, both at Lund University, and Andrea Lucarelli, PhD in Business Administration specialising in Location Marketing and Associate Professor at Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University.

Project facts


Attractivity in the Periphery - Opportunities for the Tourism Industry in Vulnerable Areas

Research organization

Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University

Project Manager

Cecilia Cassinger, Lund University


Ola Thufvesson, Lund University and Andrea Lucarelli, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University


Jan. 2024 – Dec. 2025


SEK 1,800,000

Läs om projektet på svenska »

Cecilia Cassinger

PhD in Business Administration
Photo: Johan Persson/Lund University

Ola Thufvesson

PhD in Human Geography
Photo: Johan Persson/Lund University

Andrea Lucarelli

PhD in Business Administration
Photo: Stockholm University