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10.2 Tourism as a driver of social change and transformation in rural areas

5419.0114 (Kapteynborg)
Thursday, June 29, 2023
11:00 - 12:30


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Kingsley Agoha
Phd Researcher
Ulster University

The role of entrepreneurial networks in the development of rural tourism in Northern Ireland.


This research aims to understand the role of entrepreneurial networks in facilitating rural tourism development. It is based on a purposive sample of rural tourism entrepreneurs located in Northern Ireland. It investigates the entrepreneurial network formation, characteristics, and motivations of entrepreneurs in joining various networks, and examines the relationship between those network elements and rural tourism developments.
This research takes a qualitative, inductive approach to uncover the subject realities of rural tourism entrepreneurs through a series of in-depth interviews. 25 interviews took place in total, comprising members from a range of rural tourism networks in Northern Ireland. Data was analyzed using NVivo 2020, following a thematic approach and findings were compared and contrasted with extant literature.
Preliminary findings indicates that rural tourism entrepreneurs are motivated to join network because there is opportunity to gaining valuable information, and a good way for new people to meet other industry members.
In practice, the findings of this study will help in understanding the positive effects of investing in rural tourism, where entrepreneurial networks assist in increasing domestic and foreign visitors.
The strength of stronger social relationships through networks should be used as an asset in policy design, as agencies should be aware of networks and their embeddedness to tailor their advice and policies.The paper aids in understanding how network and social network theory might be used to study the development of rural tourism entrepreneurial networks. It provides insights into the rural tourism entrepreneur’s role in connecting local actors for rural tourism development.

Dr. Kate Torkington
University of the Algarve

Lifestyle migrant entrepreneurs and the production of tourism in the rural Algarve


This study explores how lifestyle migrant entrepreneurs (LMEs) in the south of Portugal are contributing to the production of tourism in rural spaces, to better understand links between local entrepreneurism and sustainable development. Best known as a sun and sea destination, there has been relatively little development of the inland areas of the Algarve in terms of tourism. Recently, however, there has been a move towards encouraging and promoting rural and nature-based tourism as a means of both diversifying the region’s tourism offer and contributing to the socio-economic regeneration of the inland areas. Inward migration by individuals seeking a better quality of life as well as small-scale business opportunities may well play a key role in driving positive socio-economic change in these areas.
Building on studies carried out elsewhere in Europe, this research takes us beyond the dominant understanding of lifestyle migration as a form of consumption-based migration. It allows us to explore the potential interactions in peripheral and lagging rural areas among various stakeholders, within the context of tourism and sustainable development.
Emerging findings from 60 in-depth interviews with LMEs and other key stakeholders reveal that although there are numerous LMEs in rural areas of the Algarve who are involved in a wide range of tourism activities, there is a lack of communication and cooperation among the involved stakeholders. This calls into question the fundamental underpinnings of sustainable tourism development and the assessment of the impacts of LME activities in these rural spaces.
Acknowledgments: Project funded by FCT Portugal
Yuqi Zhang
Department of Cultural Geography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences
University of Groningen

Is high-end B&B a good strategy for rural revitalization: Community perceptions from Wulingyuan World Natural Heritage, China


Rural tourism is universally believed to bring benefits to local communities, and is a means frequently utilized by the Chinese government to promote rural construction and economic development. The rapid development of high-end B&Bs in Longweiba village, Wulingyuan World Natural Heritage, has dramatically changed the community. We explore the impacts of the B&Bs on the host communities’ residents by looking into the experiences of Longweiba. Interviews (both depth and semi-structured) with local people or hosts of B&Bs, non-participatory observation, and document analysis were undertaken. Findings reveal that residents have mixed perceptions of B&Bs, even in the widely acclaimed economic promotion. In contrast, more positive results are identified on local culture and rural environment, for the better preservation and presentation of local culture by B&Bs, and more support from the local government on the rural construction. Further, the increasing living pollution caused widespread concern among residents, even about induced resettlement. Unequal management and tourism policies received the most criticism from residents, “one village, two policies” were mentioned repeatedly by respondents, which will perhaps lead to more serious social conflicts. These findings suggest that tourism is still a lucrative industry for Longweiba village. Nevertheless, potential negative impacts deserve much attention, thus a fair and community-based management approach is urgently needed to benefit broader residents, rather than only bear the costs.
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Dr. Malcolm Campbell
Associate Professor, Director
University of Canterbury

Peri-pandemic transitions in accommodation sharing in New Zealand's rural and urban areas


This paper explores how rural areas have been influenced by the changes in tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand. We examine the spatial distribution of Airbnb listings in the South Island of New Zealand, building on previous research on the spatial distribution of this ‘disruptive’ platform (Campbell et al. 2019, MacKay et al. 2019, Perkins et al 2018, and Campbell et al. 2021).
We combine Airbnb listing data, census data, and an Urban-Rural classification, to uncover geographical patterns. We also use a measure of intensity to help quantify the uneven spatial impacts on residents from accommodation sharing in our study area.
Our results show that the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand is distinct from many other contexts internationally, where urban areas often feature. In Aotearoa New Zealand, smaller rural settlements are often influenced unequally by the intensity of Airbnb listings when compared with main urban areas, where the absolute number of Airbnb listings is often higher. The ability of rural areas to provide services and amenities can be strained more quickly by the higher intensity of short-term stays, when compared with larger urban areas internationally.
The policy implications of this work relate to the lack of ‘officially’ available data that can be used by central or local authorities to better quantify and interpret accommodation sharing in their jurisdictions. Future work should examine the balancing act of increasing demand for tourism in rural areas and the economic and social good it can bring to these places.

Session host

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Akke Folmer
NHL Stenden



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl