“It’s All about the Scenery”: Tourists’ Perceptions of Cultural Ecosystem Services in the Lofoten Islands, Norway
Keywords:Norway, Lofoten, tourism experience, cultural ecosystem services, scenery, policy
The Lofoten Islands in northern Norway face challenges from increasing visitor numbers, congestion, environmental impacts, and growing host-visitor tensions. Benefits include increased local employment and growing revenues. Future tourism policy requires better documentation of the non-economic benefits and values associated with tourism in Lofoten; this information is important to the development of policy and management processes. We conducted 45 in-depth interviews with domestic and international visitors, using the cultural ecosystem services (ES) framework to ascertain the core elements of the tourism experience, as well as views on management needs and development. We probed reflections on place, aesthetics, recreational opportunities, inspiration, social relations, cultural heritage, knowledge, spirituality, and identity by offering a combination of statements and questions. All these categories of cultural ES were important to most visitors. However, the importance of the landscape was paramount. Policy implications include the need to include landscape in ES assessments, to map places of especially high scenic value, and to use the ES framework more extensively to identify and compare non-economic and economic tourism values and benefits.