Indigenous tourism has recently been acknowledged as a potential and fast growing segment of the tourism industry. In line with this process, the local culture, history, and nature are often seen as popular and, indeed, well-sold products. Examples from tourism industry suggest the complex constructs of culture, history, and nature can be effectively incorporated in tourist destination branding process and help to create and market the unique image of a destination on the marketplace. In its turn, a strong and distinctive destination brand positively affects an inflow of tourists, contributing to the overall wealth of the region. The present study attempts to explore how the constructs of culture, history, and nature can be incorporated in the process of branding a tourist destination. The study uses the case of peripheral region Eastern Norrbotten situated in the north of Sweden. Eastern Norrbotten has a range of unique assets, which generate from its location near the Finnish-speaking part of Sweden (Tornedalen) and the influence of indigenous Sami culture. The northernmost location of the Swedish Eastern Norrbotten, its historical heritage, multilingual and multicultural environment yearly attracts thousands of tourists from different countries, who come here to experience Midnight Sun, salmon fishing, reindeer race, Sami culture and Finnish sauna. A proposed three-dimensional model of Tourist Destination Branding incorporates regional culture, history and nature as branding constructs and is tested using the method of focus group discussion. The results suggest the model can be a useful tool for determination of the unique regional features that are clearly associated with the tourist destination and upon which a tourist destination brand can be built. Regions with peripheral location can be seen as almost ideal cases to build brands on the basis of culture, history, and nature due to their remoteness and relatively untouched and well-preserved assets associated with the named constructs. Recognition and effective communication of these assets to potential tourists are, however, seen as essential prerequisites for creating a distinctive tourist destination brand. The Internet and Web technology due to their global penetration and accessibility can be a vital aid in brand communication process. One of the main implications for tourism practitioners, therefore, would be a recommendation to accent on the unique features of the region, associated with its culture, history and nature, when building website content. The nature of the following study is explorative, which leaves an open room for future research.
Nordic-Scottish Conference on Rural and Regional Development : 22/09/2005 - 25/09/2005