Rural community tourism (RCT) represents an experience of community-based tourism where local population retains control over the process and the bulk of benefits. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the study of successful RCT experiences in Nicaragua to enlarge the literature of tourism sustainability.
Applying the resource-based theory of the firm to tourism, the paper defines a theoretical framework where local resources and capabilities combined through organization and strategic actions result in competitive advantages at the community level reinforcing its sustainable dimension. The model is tested empirically through Structural Equation Modelling-Partial Least Squares (SEM-PLS) modelling for Nicaraguan RCT experiences.
Main findings show a good performance of empirical results, with the community dimension representing the cornerstone of the RCT project. Results remark how the presence of community tangible and intangible resources and capabilities are combined and exploited in tourism initiatives through strategies that put the preservation of the community as the central objective. This process leads to the emergence of competitive advantages that promote the sustainability of the community lifestyle, ensuring a durable approach of the rural tourism initiatives. Other interesting findings show how this type of RCT projects also promote the integration of weak rural collectives, like women and young people, or the pivotal cooperation emerging between public and private actors.
The paper provides a novel framework to better understand some of the key pieces ensuring the sustainability of tourism initiatives. This theoretical setting has been applied to the case of rural areas at developing countries but could be enlarged to other contexts at developed countries having to deal with mass tourism and important related negative impacts of these activities. In sum, the main value of the paper is to provide a framework helping to identify the context that is needed to implement successful sustainable tourism experiences.
Professor Andres Artal-Tur acknowledges financial support by Groups of Excellence of the Region of Murcia, Fundación Séneca, Science and Technology Agency, project 19884/GERM/15, and FEMISE Association (Project ENPI/2014/354-494) Research Projects FEM 41-04 and FEM 41-13.
Artal-Tur, A., Briones-Peñalver, A.J., Bernal-Conesa, J.A. and Martínez-Salgado, O. (2019), "Rural community tourism and sustainable advantages in Nicaragua", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 2232-2252. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-05-2018-0429
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