How Modest Tourism Development Becomes Successful: The Complementarity of Tourism in Malå Municipality

  • Linda Lundmark
  • Kajsa G. ÅbergEmail author
Part of the Geographies of Tourism and Global Change book series (GTGC)


This chapter tells the story of a small inland village in northern Sweden. Historically this area was only home to the Sami population, but with time colonization and the extraction of raw material have changed the conditions radically. This chapter explores the circumstances that have shaped the tourism sector in Malå and discusses how tourism is integrated in the development of the local economy. The geographical location was key to creating wealth from forestry and mining in the past, but this did not create the infrastructure or layers of investments that today are important for economic development in other sectors. However, this study shows that Malå has managed to diversify its historic paths by branching into the new knowledge economy, and the direct dependence on jobs in its primary industry has decreased even though it remains one of several pillars of the local economy. Tourism is seen as a way to further decrease the historic dependence on primary sectors. Municipal officials argue that tourism is to be regarded as a complement and should not be seen as replacing what is already successfully transitioning and developing. Tourism in Malå is predominantly concentrated on the winter season, with weekend return tourists coming mainly from the coastal municipalities. Although it is a major skiing destination in Västerbotten County, second only to Hemavan-Tärnaby in terms of sold ski passes, there are indicators that identification with the traditional resource sectors remains strong among Malå’s inhabitants. However, tourism seems to be a successful local development strategy, given its complementarity to other industries and the realistic expectations based on accurate appraisals of existing conditions for development.


Path dependence Path creation Periphery Regional tourism Small-scale seasonal tourism Weekenders 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Swedish research council Formas for providing the means to perform this study. Furthermore, the authors’ gratitude extends to the reviewers for their valuable comments for improving the chapter.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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