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Maria Månsson


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From overtourism to undertourism: exploring the mediatization of place brands


  • Cecilia Cassinger
  • Maria Månsson

Summary, in English

Overtourism encapsulates the zeitgeist of contemporary tourism and was - for a few years - the buzzword within media reports on tourism. It gained attention as an unsustainable consequence of the intensification of place management practices in urban economic planning strategy. Stories about “the invasion” of visitors into a number of popular European cities frequently circulated in news and social media. However, all of that changed during spring 2020 with the advent of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, urban tourism destinations went from overtourism to undertourism, or to almost no tourism at all.
The aim of this paper is to advance the understanding of the connection between place branding and processes of mediatization (Hjarvard, 2009; see also Månsson, Buchmann, Cassinger and Eskilsson, 2020). To this end, we seek to capture how European urban destination brands are mediatized in a contemporary hybrid media landscape. Mediatization may be defined as ”the process whereby society to an increasing degree is submitted to, or becomes dependent on, the media and their logic” (Hjarvard 2009, 160). The concept highlights the institutionalisation of the media and the dialectical relationship between the media, institutions, and organisations (e.g. DMOs, place branding and management).
The study is based on a narrative analysis (Czarniawska, 2004) of articles in English language news media downloaded through the database Global Newsstream between January 2018 and December 2020, and Instagram posts with hashtags related to over- and undertourism. The typical plots and their contextual use were identified in the narrative analysis. The findings point towards the presence of a particular media logic in the way that certain urban destination brands are presented and in the long run consumed by visitors. Unsurprisingly, the spotlight is on visually spectacular events in the bigger cities that are dramatized with archetypal villains, rescued objects, and heroes. Mediatization thus help us to understand how a particular media logic governs place branding processes making them difficult to control.


  • Institutionen för strategisk kommunikation






Konferensbidrag: abstract


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • overtourism
  • undertourism
  • cities
  • urban destinations
  • mediatization
  • narrative analysis

Conference name

The annual conference of the international place branding association

Conference date

2021-12-08 - 2021-12-10

Conference place

Barcelona, Spain




  • Rethinking urban tourism development: Dealing with sustainability in the age of over-tourism