Communicating paradox: Uncertainty and the northern lights
While many characteristics of tourism products are well known, relatively little work has explored elements of uncertainty and risk. Little is known about how tourism operators communicate aspects of uncertainty. This qualitative study uses content analysis to explore the language used in promotional material of tour operators and destination management organisations to communicate the unpredictable nature of northern lights. The study involves two Norwegian destinations (2004–2014). Three rhetorical strategies are identified: first, the rhetoric of technology, enhanced mobility, and adding additional activities; secondly, through ‘hiding’ or obscuring the uncertainty; and thirdly, through employing culturally and geographically appropriate metaphors (i.e. ‘hunt’) to embrace the element of uncertainty. This study advances our understanding of how tourism operators rhetorically address temporally and/or spatially uncertain attractions by demonstrating how the operators negotiate and minimise uncertainty through the narrative of ‘the hunt’. This rhetoric implies that uncertainty can enhance value in a touristic experience.