The force of nature

The semiotic foregrounding of nature in post-lockdown tourist place branding in rural Alsace


  • Adam Wilson Université de Lorraine, IDEA, Metz



tourism, place branding, nature, pandemic, Alsace (France)


In one way or another, tourism often sits at the heart of place branding. Transformations of tourism induced by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have led to shifts in tourist demand and target markets, thus provoking changes in tourist place branding. In this article, I
explore these changes from a sociolinguistic point of view by examining the ways in which a rural tourist destination in Alsace (France) mobilises language and discourse to adapt its tourist place branding strategy in response to rising demand for nature tourism. First, using data gathered during ethnographic fieldwork undertaken following the easing of lockdown restrictions, I show how ‘nature’ is positioned as a central trope in defining the essential characteristics of the destination, its population, and the activities that can be undertaken there. Second, I look at how this positioning contributes to the elaboration of a coherent destination brand whilst also shaping tourist experiences and thus tourist, geographical, and spatial imaginaries. Finally, I explore the dynamics of commodification that underpin this foregrounding of nature in the (re)framing of people and place.

Author Biography

Adam Wilson, Université de Lorraine, IDEA, Metz

Adam Wilson is currently Assistant Professor at the Université de Lorraine (France) and affiliated to the IDEA research centre (UR 2338). His research focuses on the sociolinguistic dynamics of “new” contexts linked to globalised forms of mobility, and especially tourism, transnational migration, and higher education. He has published on these topics in a range of international journals and collective volumes in both English and French.


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How to Cite

Wilson, A. (2023). The force of nature: The semiotic foregrounding of nature in post-lockdown tourist place branding in rural Alsace. Sociolinguistic Studies, 16(4), 525–545.