Collective self-governance in a marine community: expedition cruise tourism at Svalbard

L.K.J. van Bets*, M.A.J. Lamers, J.P.M. van Tatenhove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Collective self-governance is gaining attention in the literature for maintaining the quality of key attractions and promoting sustainable tourism. The long-term success of collective self-governance is dependent on both its internal organization and its embeddedness in external state and non-state regulations. This paper presents the marine community concept, consisting of a policy and a user community, as a framework for investigating the internal and external dynamics of collective self-governance and its ability to steer toward sustainable cruise tourism. As methodology, a case study design was chosen which was primarily studied by means of interviews with a spectrum of relevant actors concerning expedition cruise tourism at Svalbard. By applying the marine community to Svalbard expedition cruise tourism governance, we draw the following conclusions: (1) collective self-governance complements governmental regulation through access to knowledge, conflict resolution and rule-compliance based on disclosure, traceability and trust; (2) collective self-governance's increasing role in the policy community alienates the expedition crew from the user community; and (3) informational overflow by co-existence of collective self-governance and state-governance challenges sustainable cruise tourism. Collective self-governance would, therefore, benefit from reflection, especially regarding the role of the user community that functions as an intermediary between state and self-governance regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1583-1599
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2017


  • expedition cruise tourism
  • marine community
  • collective self-governance
  • Svalbard
  • information systems


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