Public Symposium: Tourism, Place and Identity: Rural Tourism in Iceland and PEI (2017)

Public Symposium: Tourism, Place and Identity: Rural Tourism in Iceland and Prince Edward Island

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | 7-9 p.m.
MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, Room 242, MacDougall Hall, UPEI

View Presentation Slides (Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir)

“Tourism, Place and Identity: Rural Tourism in Iceland and Prince Edward Island”– sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies and UPEI’s VP Research and Academic – featured Ms. Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir of the Tourism Research Centre in Akureyri, Iceland. She was joined by a panel of authorities/practitioners in PEI Tourism, including Dr. Ed MacDonald of UPEI’s History Department, tourism operator Bill Kendrick of Experience PEI, and Ann Worth, Executive Director of Meetings and Conventions PEI.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of tourists visiting Iceland, so that tourism density there now rivals that of Prince Edward Island. The nature of the tourism industry is broadly similar in both islands – generally seasonal, with a heavy stress on cultural and environmental resources. Also, in both islands there has been a concerted effort by policy-makers to utilize tourism as a community-development tool for the more rural areas.  This has met with mixed success – and has raised a whole new set of issues. There is benefit for both islands in sharing experiences, insights, and possible solutions.


Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir, presently Director of the Icelandic Research Centre at the University of Akureyri in northern Iceland, is a graduate of  the MBA in Tourism Management program at the University of Guelph. She is a specialist in rural tourism.  From 2011 to 2014, she worked on a study – “The Entangled Web: Tourism, Place and Identity” – exploring how three small Icelandic communities have embraced the ever increasing role of tourism.

Dr. Edward MacDonald is a professor of history at the University of Prince Edward Island. His research focus is the social, cultural, and environmental history of Prince Edward Island. The best known of his seven books is If You’re Stronghearted: Prince Edward Island in the 20th Century (October 2000). He is co-editor of Time and a Place, an environmental history of Prince Edward Island, co-published by Island Studies Press and McGill-Queen’s University Press. His current research project is the history of Prince Edward Island tourism.

Bill Kendrick of Experience PEI will talk about an “Experiential Approach to Rural Tourism.” He notes that on the Island, there is substantial potential to generate revenue for rural communities by leveraging local expertise and engaging individuals who might not normally be in the tourism business. Experience PEI’s recent awards include the 2016 President’s Award from the Tourism Industry Association of PEI; and the 2016 Hilton Worldwide Best Small/Medium-Sized Tourism Business in Canada Award from Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Ann Worth is Executive Director of Meetings and Conventions Prince Edward Island, a group mandated to develop and attract meetings and convention business for Prince Edward Island. She has actively worked in developing relationships in Iceland for PEI companies in multiple sectors including tourism. Destination research and company matchmaking in Iceland has provided some valuable business insights about how Prince Edward Island and Iceland can continue to build partnerships and collaboration.

This symposium was one of a series of symposia organized by the Institute of Island Studies as part of its mandate to encourage a deep knowledge, understanding, and expression of Prince Edward Island; to contribute to the formulation of public policy on Prince Edward Island; to serve as a bridge between the University and Island communities; and to undertake comparative studies of Prince Edward Island and other islands. For further information, please contact us at

NOTE: Unfortunately, we were only able to capture Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir’s presentation, as well as a few minutes of Ed MacDonald’s, as the video camera quit unexpectedly. Our sincere apologies to Ed, Ann, and Bill – and to you, the viewer – on not being able to show their presentations here.


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