The Interplay Between Co-creational Place Branding and Overtourism

Kristvør Maria Dam & Thea Klem Storm-Paulsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Overtourism poses a threat to the lifestyle of some local communities and the current literature describes how overtourism negatively affects components of a place brand. By applying corporate branding theories to the concept of a place brand, a place brand is considered as co-created by all stakeholders encountering the brand. In this way, the strength of a place brand is dependent on a clear place identity. Scholars have established the importance of involving local residents in this co-creational process. However, this process has not been studied in the context of overtourism. While literature on overtourism acknowledges the value of stakeholder involvement and local insights, local communities are rarely involved, and research is mostly focused on policymaking. The purpose of this research is to explore how co-creational place branding can help address issues of overtourism. As residents are relevant in the co-creation of a place brand, and overtourism is mostly affecting residents, the main focus will remain on this internal stakeholder.
This topic is explored through a qualitative study using Christiania as a context, as this is a place brand suffering from overtourism. As Christiania is based on a consensus-democracy, all residents contribute to the decision-making process. This can increase the residents’ participation in the co-creation of the Christiania place brand, making Christiania an ideal context for this research. Through semi-structured interviews with Christiania residents (Christianites) and tourists visiting Christiania, this research will first seek to understand the current place brand of Christiania and the effect of overtourism. This is done through an inductive approach, using thematic analysis to generate themes for the discussion.
Findings describe the interplay between co-creational place branding and overtourism. Christiania has a clear identity based on a criminal subculture, which creates a strong place brand attracting many tourists. These tourists are deemed undesirable by Christianites and contribute to exceeding the social carrying capacity of Christiania, leading to negative encounters and Christianites isolating themselves. With a dissatisfied local community, the Christiania place brand is not meeting the main goal of a place brand. Co-creational place branding can help address issues of overtourism by increasing the Christianites’ participation in the co-creational process. This can lead to a new clear identity, based on the true Christiania culture, aligned with the vision. This creates a strong place brand attracting a different type of tourist, who is less likely to contribute overtourism. This describes a sustainable tourism development that increases the Christianites satisfaction.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages81