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Joseph Chen
School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Tracy James
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, April 27, 2010

IU professor receives NSF grant to study tourism in Norway

April 27, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Joseph Chen, associate professor in Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, will take his tourism marketing expertise to the Arctic with a $275,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the social impact of tourism in Norway.

Chen said his research will take a unique and "holistic" approach by also taking into account the needs and perceptions of tourists and the business community. Tourism impact studies, he said, more often tend to focus on local residents alone.

"For sustainable tourism development, the partnerships with tourists and business is very important," he said. "It's important to learn the needs of all stakeholders because they are very different yet sustainable tourism requires a balance of these needs."

Chen described tourism in Norway as a niche market, primarily because of the expense. The weather conditions are more moderate because of the jet stream, he said, with temperatures in the 50s during the summer. Popular tourism activities in the areas being studied include fishing, cultural tourism, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing. The oil-rich coastal areas, Chen notes, also are very scenic.

The study will focus on Alta, Kirkenes, Karasjok, North Cape, Hammerfest, Honningsvag, and Båtsfjord. North Cape is considered the most visited Arctic destination in the European continent as well as one of the most popular and established arctic destinations in the world. In the first stage of data collection, in-depth interviews and focus groups will be conducted in different locations to obtain impact-related attributes. Those attributes will be integrated into a close-ended questionnaire for survey research. Next, mail and on-site surveys will be deployed to measure opinions of tourism development from a large portion of tourism stakeholders.

Last year Chen began collaborating with another Norwegian tourism marketing research project funded with a $5.5 million grant from the Norwegian Research Council. The results of his NSF-funded project, he said, could be used by other arctic communities and could help establish an international research network focusing on tourism.

Chen, associate professor in the School of HPER's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, can be reached at 812-855-1880 and