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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Chee Hua Chin, Susan Su-Zhuang Thian and May Chiun Lo

Rural tourism has emerged as one of the potential economic contributors to the country’s economic growth. To this extent, tourism stakeholders are aware of the rural…

Abstract

Purpose

Rural tourism has emerged as one of the potential economic contributors to the country’s economic growth. To this extent, tourism stakeholders are aware of the rural tourism destination competitiveness where the development should be aligned with the objectives to achieve destination competitive advantage. Given the importance of studying factors that contribute to the development of rural tourism competitive advantage, the present study aimed to propose a research framework by identifying six predictors from the local community based on their experiential knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were gathered through a structured questionnaire survey where 144 respondents comprising local communities from Kampung Semadang – Borneo Heights, Sarawak, Malaysia – were involved. To assess the developed model, SmartPLS 2.0 (M3) was applied based on path modelling (measurement model assessment) followed by bootstrapping analysis (structural model assessment).

Findings

Interestingly, the findings revealed that the communities believed economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts significantly contributes to the development of rural tourism competitive advantage. Additionally, communities from Kampung Semadang viewed that both community knowledge and support for tourism greatly affect the development of rural tourism destination competitive advantage. Surprisingly, there was no significant relationship between stakeholder involvement and rural tourism competitive advantage.

Practical implications

From a practical point of view, the findings of the study provide valuable information to tourism stakeholders and policy planners about the importance of tri-dimensional tourism impacts, as well as community knowledge and support in the development of rural tourism destination competitive advantage. In line with policy development or planning for rural tourism development, the tourism stakeholders should pay more concern on the tri-dimensional impacts, the importance of community knowledge about tourism and gaining the community support for tourism development to achieve the goal of competitiveness.

Originality/value

There is lack of study in investigating the development of rural tourism competitive advantage with a holistic framework. This paper studies the intended or unintended economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts triggered by the tourism activities. This study has also investigated the local communities’ knowledge and supports toward tourism as the community efforts determine the success of a destination management, especially in the rural area. Stakeholder involvement was also examined as the collaboration among relevant parties to create competitive advantage is essential to achieve sustainable rural tourism.

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