Abstract

To meet, encounter, and visit others is foundational to culture and civilization. The ever-increasing number of tourists now challenges the social, cultural, and ecological systems of whole societies. In small, marginalized, and peripheral islands like Gotland, Sweden, tourism and heritage have been embraced as saviors. Although intensive heritage production and increased tourism have boosted parts of the island's economy, it has also led to acute water shortages, increased pollution of the Baltic Sea—already the world's most polluted sea—and to heightened gentrification and marginalization, which in turn has notably increased the islanders’ alienation and ambivalence toward their own lifeworld. In the essay, I introduce the notion of “sustainable visits” to envision forms of tourism that build on local understandings of hosts and guests, forms that acknowledge the legacy of the islanders without leading to further marginalization and Othering. How can studying heritage and folklore contribute to sustainable visits and sustainable destination development?

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