Research Output

The role of heritage tourism in the Shetland Islands

  Purpose – This paper aims to determine the role of heritage tourism in Shetland Island destination development and how this links to tourism public policy in island communities.Design/methodology/approach – The study is conducted in the Shetland Islands, located off the north coast of Scotland, UK. Descriptive and inductive approaches are utilized to enable the researchers to recognize multiple social structures and draw conclusions from observations and specific information. Primary research focuses on semi‐structured interviews with key informants. Data is analyzed via a mix of content analysis and interpretation of the responses through a connected narrative approach.Findings – Seasonality is a key feature of Shetland Island tourism, alongside other key limitations to growth including transport links and climatic conditions. Potential conflicts exist between tourism stakeholders and their perceptions of the effectiveness of the heritage tourism public policy in Shetland, though overall stakeholder collaboration succeeds in enhancing heritage conservation and development.Practical implications – While the findings relate specifically to the Shetland Islands, the general conclusions offer an example of best practice concerning tourism public policy for heritage‐focused tourism in island communities, which could be used in comparable destinations.Originality/value – The choice of the Shetland Islands as an example of a cold water island destination offers the opportunity to extend existing research and examine how the community of Shetland embraces the opportunities afforded by tourism as an alternative to traditional industries.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 November 2009

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    GV Recreation Leisure

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    338.4791 Tourist industry


Leask, A. & Rihova, I. (2009). The role of heritage tourism in the Shetland Islands. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research. 4(2), 118-129. doi:10.1108/17506181011045190. ISSN 1750-6182



Heritage, Tourism, Public policy, Stakeholder analysis, United Kingdom

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