Today, competition between cities to attract inhabitants, companies and tourists is strong and cities must be up-to-date in terms of development to succeed. One way for smaller destinations to achieve sustainable development is by being creative with respect to tourism. Some destinations are in the shadow of others and need to stand out in some way. The purpose of this paper is to study European cities of different sizes and their work on sustainable development. The following research questions are addressed: How do different cities work on sustainable development? How does the size of the city influence its work on sustainability? How can a city be influenced by surrounding areas in its sustainability work? The study uses a qualitative method. Data were collected from 34 small cities, towns and villages in Europe. The destinations were selected using non-probability sampling. The data were analysed using an interpretative approach. The results show that the local community plays a key role in contributing to the sustainable development of small destinations. It is also of great importance for a place to have an identity and to reach different types of stakeholders. The conclusion is that local communities must be engaged in the sustainable development of smaller destinations. It is also important to focus on the environment since today’s tourists are more aware of environmental sustainability. Several of the cities can be seen as shadow destinations since they are included in larger regions and are dependent on other destinations that are more famous. finally, successful rural destinations offer value to the tourist, have a strong identity and include stakeholders in the development process.
creativity, identity, rural, small city, sustainable, sustainable development.
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