Nature-based tourism as therapeutic landscape in a COVID era: autoethnographic learnings from a visitor’s experience in Iceland Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractOne of the few silver linings in the COVID pandemic has been a new appreciation for, interest in, and engagement with nature. As countries open, and travel becomes accessible again, there is an opportunity to reimagine sustainable nature-based tourism from a therapeutic landscape lens. Framed within the therapeutic landscape concept, this paper provides an autoethnographic account of a visitor’s experience of three different natural landscapes in Iceland shortly after the country’s fourth wave of the pandemic. It adds to the understanding of the healing effects of the multi-colored natural landscapes of Iceland. The natural landscapes of interest herein include: the southern part of the Westfjörd peninsula, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, and the Central Highlands. In totality, the natural, built and symbolic environments worked in synchronicity to produce three thematic results: restoration, awe and concern, all which provided reduced stress, renewed attention, as well as enhanced physical and psycho-social benefits for the autoethnographic visiting researcher. Implications of these restorative outcomes for sustainable nature-based tourism in a post-COVID era are discussed. This paper highlights how health and tourism geographers can work collaboratively to recognize, protect, and sustain the therapeutic elements of natural landscapes, recognized as a cultural ecosystem service. In so doing, such collaborations can positively influence sustainable nature-based tourism development and consumption through proper and appropriate planning and development of such tourism destinations.

publication date

  • July 27, 2022