Clusters without Content? Icelandic National and Regional Tourism Policy

Edward H. Huijbens, Hjalti Jóhannesson, Gunnar Thór Jóhannesson


This paper explores the relationship between Icelandic regional policy and tourism development. It is inspired by the efforts of the Icelandic government to introduce industry clusters in tourism development over the last few years. With tourism gaining increasing recognition as a central pillar of the national economy and clustering being seen as central means to success, the paper presents a critical evaluation of the cluster concept. The introduction of industry clusters in Icelandic regional policy is illustrated through a short case study from North Iceland, where industry clusters have been promoted in general regional development and tourism for the longest and gone through two successive stages. This case underpins the central argument of the paper that industry clusters as promoted by the Icelandic government do not reflect an engagement with regional socio-spatial specificities and the nature of the tourism product. These specificities need to be recognised and worked with in order to establish the necessary foundations for any successful cluster initiative. Thus the paper concludes with questioning the efficiency of top-down governance approach in enhancing tourism.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413