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Malin Zillinger.

Malin Zillinger

Assistant Head of Department, senior lecturer, associate professor

Malin Zillinger.

There is no such thing as a free walk : Spatial implications of shared guiding developments


  • Jan-Henrik Nilsson
  • Malin Zillinger

Summary, in English

The sharing economy has many faces, and it has taken our societies by storm. For many people, it has quickly become a norm to book accommodation via AirBnB, or to think sharing instead of owning when it comes to products of their everyday lives. The tourism industry has seen many adaptions towards a sharing economy, one of them being a new way of conducting guided tours. Based on an innovation in Berlin 2003, there are now several organisations around the globe that offer guided tours without an official fee, but with tips instead. Such organisations use the Internet as a platform both externally, by addressing new customer groups, and internally, by working effectively across space to direct and develop the own administration. In a previous study, free walking tours in Copenhagen have been studied, showing that such organisations have the power to strongly influence the guiding industry, as we know it. The tours enjoy great popularity not only among young and cost-conscious travellers, but increasingly among mature visitors as well. On a typical day during high season, there are hundreds of visitors who take part in the tours that start at the town hall square in Copenhagen.

Experiences from the Copenhagen free walking tours and related services in Northern Europe bring forward a number of issues related to the impact of shared tourism services on the local environment:

• Spatial patterns of urban tourist mobility. Do alternative tourism innovations create alternative tourism landscapes?
• Diffusion of innovations. How do successful models of shared tourism services influence the development of similar services elsewhere?
• The importance of social media for marketing shared tourism experiences. Is visibility the new tourism currency? If yes, how does it affect the quality of experiences?
• Values of professional local knowledge. Is the craft of professional guiding being re-negotiated or even devalued as a result of shared guiding?
• Bubbles of cosmopolitan non-space. Is the creation of globalised elite networks in major cities a challenge to local and national integration? Could this be related to the current political situation in Europe?

The common denominator among these issues lie in the interplay between global forces and different aspects of localness. Global technological, economic, and cultural forces will inevitably influence the development of new tourism spaces, at the same time as local phenomena may be shared on a global scale creating new glocal experiences. The question is whether we are facing increased plurality or a higher degree of homegenisation. Is diversity increasing in global tourism, or does sharing economies in tourism represent ”the end of tourism as we know it” and the rise of global middleclassness?


  • Department of Service Studies

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Tourism
  • Sharing economies
  • guided tours

Conference name

IGU Regional Conference 2018, Quebec Canada

Conference date

2018-08-06 - 2018-08-10

Conference place

Quebec, Canada