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Phygital rural cultural heritage: a digitalisation approach for destination recovery and resilience

Kaewta Muangasame (Tourism and Hospitality Management Division, Mahidol University International College, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand)
Eunice Tan (College of Art, Business, Law and Social Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 1 September 2022

Issue publication date: 31 January 2023




This study examines a phygital approach to rural cultural heritage tourism, adopted by a rural community in Sapphaya, Chai Nat Province, Thailand, in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Specifically, it investigates a community’s initiatives to amalgamate its physical and digital marketing communications in order to engage with consumers as a strategy for destination recovery and resilience.


This is a qualitative exploratory study involving three stages of action, applying two research approaches: (1) participatory action research (PAR) with Sapphaya’s tourism stakeholders, and (2) social media research utilising netnographic analysis of Sapphaya’s tourism social enterprise social media pages.


The findings indicate that a phygital rural cultural heritage strategy can facilitate the interconnectivity between a destination’s physical and digital dimensions of its cultural heritage tourism product, thereby enhancing its intrinsic value, meaning and experiential perceptions. Specifically, it recommends that a successful community-based phygitalisation strategy requires grassroot engagement across all stages of planning, development, implementation and management of the rural cultural heritage tourism product.

Practical Implications

The paper focusses on the cultural heritage tourism strategy adopted by a rural community across the physical-digital-phygital spectrum to augment its sustainable tourism development during a time of crisis. A framework for phygital rural cultural heritage as a strategy for destination resilience and recovery is also proposed.


This study adopts a local engagement approach to develop a cooperative community heritage management strategy, based upon local rural capacity building towards digitalisation and empowering innovative partnerships amongst its stakeholders.



The authors would like to thank the office of Sapphaya subdistrict municipality, tourism stakeholders, authorities and local community members for their participation and support of this project.


Muangasame, K. and Tan, E. (2023), "Phygital rural cultural heritage: a digitalisation approach for destination recovery and resilience", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 8-17.



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