Innovation gaps in Scandinavian rural tourism

Anne-Mette Hjalager, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski*, Martin Østervig Larsen


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Drawing on primary data from a consumer survey (N = 2000), this study demonstrates a clear growth potential in rural tourism in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, which is, however, hampered by innovation gaps. At the conceptual level, the study offers a model that identifies the following five innovation gaps in Scandinavian rural tourism: (1) the portfolio gap, (2) the policy departmentalization gap, (3) the knowledge gap, (4) the change motivation gap, and (5) the resource interpretation gap. At the empirical level, the study shows that rural tourism has its basis in a dichotomy between authenticity and modernization. New and prospective customer groups, particularly from Germany, demand more diversified and higher quality rural tourism products than current groups, for example, in relation to outdoor opportunities, leisure festivals, and cultural activities. With rural assets, it is possible to expand the portfolio without compromising the rural image. Rural tourism enterprises and destinations remain slow movers in terms of innovation endeavours, and the study indicates that the discrepancies between potential customers’ service expectations and their spending patterns can partially explain this phenomenon. The merit of the innovation gap model is that this model identifies potential rebalancing actions at both enterprise and destination levels.

TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)1-17
StatusUdgivet - 2018


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