Cultural Centres: A Future for Cultural Arctic Tourism?

Elizabeth Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential of cultural centres to be spaces that foster interaction between tourists and locals, and thereby meet the demands of new cultural tourists. This is done through conducting a case study of Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, Greenland. Combining theories of cultural contact and placemaking, the paper analyses how locals and tourists make use of and experience the centre. The paper then goes on to conduct a broader discussion about how future placemaking in tourism can respond to the emerging demands of cultural Arctic tourists, and to suggest ways to encourage positive interaction on both a local community level and a resident-visitor level.
Design/methodology/approach – A series of anthropological research methods were used, including participant observation in the cultural centre itself, and informal and semi-structured interviews with relevant stakeholders.
Findings – Concluding that, from multiple perspectives, Katuaq fails to perform as a “centre of culture”, the study offers innovative insights into how cultural centres can be operated more inclusively in the future, as spaces in which members of different cultural groups can achieve positive interaction. It is argued that the future of successful and fulfilling cultural tourism offerings in the Arctic lies at the intersection of tourism and leisure studies.
Originality/value – The originality of this paper lies first in its deepening of the academic discussion of cultural centres. Second, and on a broader level, the paper identifies an emerging trend of “community–tourism spaces” as cultural tourism offerings, and provides some insights into the conflicts experienced in these kinds of spaces, as well as some suggestions as to how further research on these spaces should continue
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Tourism Futures
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)57-69
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural tourism
  • Placemaking
  • Local community
  • Tourism futures
  • Contact zones
  • Cultural encounters

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