Islands, island studies, island studies journal

Islands are sites of innovative conceptualizations, whether of nature or human enterprise, whether virtual or real. The study of islands on their own terms today enjoys a growing and wide-ranging recognition. This paper celebrates the launch of Island Studies Journal in the context of a long and thrilling tradition of island studies scholarship. Not sun, sea, sand but ice, isolation, indigenous people: the critical exploration of extreme tourism in cold water locations has barely started. Cold water island locations tend to have harsh, pristine and fragile natural environments, characterized by wide open spaces. They become contexts for an exceptional and expensive form of vigorous, outdoor, adventure or cultural tourism, and direct encounters with nature. The nature and practices of the tourism industry suggest a more sustainable form of island tourism, very different from what is experienced on the warm, tropical and exotic island stereotype. This paper critically reviews some of the salient contrasts between the hot and cold versions of island tourism. It discusses how, on many cold water island locations, sound strategic management, limited civilian buy in, low populations and an absence of pluralism in political life, can conspire with climate and relative inaccessibility to limit tourism to a small scale, low impact industry with a relatively high, locally-retained value added. Some warm water islands are trying to follow this model for tourism development, with mixed results.

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