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What is trending in Nordic tourism and hospitality research?

When Haaga-Helia Porvoo campus hosted the annual Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research in September 2022, the conference attracted around 150 researchers from the Nordic countries.


Eva Holmberg

Yrkeshögskolan Novia

Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 14.11.2022

In September 2022, Haaga-Helia hosted the annual Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research. The conference attracted around 150 researchers from the Nordic countries.

Topics raised by the keynote speakers

Keynotes are often considered the highlights of any conference. This conference had three keynotes to get inspired by. The first one, Professor Nina K. Prebensen from University of South-Eastern Norway, talked about how to co-create tourist experiences and how they can bring value to customers. Experiences have been in research focus during the past decade, and the interest of the academic audience was guaranteed.

The second keynote was by Professor Iis Tussyadiah from the University of Surrey in the UK. She gave an interesting presentation about how artificial intelligence could be used in tourism and hospitality. According to Tussyadiah, the potential is there for AI to influence tourist behaviour towards more sustainable ways of travelling.

The last, and perhaps the most poignant, keynote was given by Professor Jarkko Saarinen from Oulu University. He touched upon the biggest challenge of tourism in our times: How to combat climate change and loss of biodiversity when the tourism industry needs to contribute towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Without growth, tourism cannot contribute to the SDGs, but the growth imperative conflicts with the climate crisis. The question is how to combine sustainability and resilience. According to Professor Saarinen, tourism research has suffered from Covidisation, i.e., crisis-driven research with too much focus on one issue.

Fortunately, the next symposium will focus on the topic “Rethinking Tourism for a Sustainable Future”. Critical tourism research is more important than ever before.

The multitude of topics was awe-inspiring

In the conference sessions, many presentations were related to sustainable tourism, an issue that has been widely discussed since the 1990s.

The topics ranged from tourism development in the archipelago to sustainable cruise tourism, Iceland and Gotland stakeholder views to hunting tourism experiences and socialising chefs, business ecosystems of food festivals to happy events, city innovations to smart rural solutions…

An interesting workshop was related to decent work in tourism, an important issue in a time when the service sector (and especially the hospitality industry) is suffering from labour shortages.

Many marketing related sessions focused on how pictures shape the image of a destination. The diversity of the people in marketing pictures was challenged. If tourism aims to be truly inclusive, pictures should include different age groups, ethnicities and genders.

The topics also covered innovative tools for tourism and hospitality research. For instance, one presentation analysed paintings as a representation of mass tourism, another used future narratives for sustainable tourism development.

Scientific surprises

Somewhat surprising was the fact that the impact of COVID and technological development on tourism were not featured very prominently in the papers presented at the conference. Perhaps researchers are suffering from pandemic fatigue and are tired of technology interfering with such pleasurable pursuits as tourism.

The sheer variety of topics was interesting, and the fact that interdisciplinary approaches are becoming more popular brings in new angles to tourism and hospitality research. There is a lot of fascinating research ground to cover!

Traditionally, the symposium has been a conference for scientific research. This time, however, the research presented was to some extent applied. All the abstracts are in the Book of Abstracts (PDF).

There were also research topics covered by Haaga-Helia UAS staff – the topics reflecting the many opportunities offered by a university of applied sciences.

  • Holmberg, E. & Konttinen, A. 2022. Regenerative tourism: perspectives and potential for Finland – a buzzword or an opportunity for a transformational system change?
  • Holmberg, E. & Ritalahti, J. 2022. Implementing inquiry learning at Haaga-Helia Porvoo Campus.
  • Konttinen, A. & Moilanen, N. 2022. Design Sprint Goes China – a case study of competences and cultural lessons learnt in a remote sprint with Chinese students.
  • Kurhinen, A. & Moilanen, N. 2022. There is no business like snow business – The Finnish snow culture as a basis for creation of tourism experiences.
  • Tuomi, A., Tussyadiah, I, & Ascenção, M. P. 2022. Future of Food: Cellular Agriculture & Hospitality and Tourism Research.