Rural community tourism in the west of Nicaragualessons for sustainability from a socio-cultural approach

  1. Oscar Felipe Martínez Salgado
Supervised by:
  1. Andrés Artal Tur Director
  2. Antonio Juan Briones Peñalver Director

Defence university: Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

Fecha de defensa: 18 November 2020

  1. Antónia Henriques Correia Chair
  2. José María Ramos Parreño Secretary
  3. Maria Antònia García Sastre Committee member
  1. Economía de la Empresa

Type: Thesis


Resumen de la tesis: Community-based Rural Tourism (RCT) is a type of tourism significantly growing in Latin America, with a special characteristic that the rural communities themselves are leading these tourism projects, not being the core of their community income sources, but a complement to their traditional rural activities. These activities also help rural communities to improve their stocks of natural and cultural resources, involving important social benefits for the local population, such as poverty reduction, the fixation of the population in their territory, the appreciation of their own cultural traditions, and the promotion and social empowerment of weaker groups in the rural world, such as women and young people. In this sense, RCT becomes a very relevant mean for the sustainability of rural communities that consolidates and promotes their way of life, helping to recover their environment, and opening their communities to friendly visitors who seek to know how these people live at their traditional rural environments. The objective of this PhD Thesis is basically to learn from the RCT projects that are being carried out by the rural communities of Western Nicaragua for more than 15 years now on, in what regards to tourism sustainability issues. To this end, an approach based on the socio-cultural dimension of the process is applied, which provides a novel vision of the process and lays the foundation for the future development of this very new literature in the field of tourism and project management. With this objective, an empirical field study is carried out on these rural communities, contacting their leaders at first in order to identify the most relevant aspects of these RCT projects. Subsequently, searching for the information basis for the Thesis, extensive questionnaires are designed and a sample of the rural population is taken so that they can provide the work field information for the present Doctoral Thesis research. The research includes basically two research blocks: After an introduction in the first chapter on the context of the RCT projects and related characteristics for the West of Nicaragua, the second chapter focuses on the identification of “the community” construct as the key variable in the promotion and coordination of the whole process, and in the end the key piece conferring sustainability to the whole project from the social and cultural dimension, in environmental terms, and in regards to the consolidation of the rural community life, this being its final objective of the RCT projects developed. In a third chapter, the approach is extended to include some other pivotal pieces of the RCT process, including the relevant leadership of national and local governments in the generation of a governance legal framework for tourism sustainability, as well as through the provision of the needed infrastructure and technical and training support for rural communities and their inhabitants. Besides, the presence of human capital, experience and resources of rural communities and local population is identified as a necessary condition for the launching of any successful and sustainable RCT project. As a result, some relevant effects emerging from rural tourism experiences are presented along this third chapter, like the process of social empowerment of rural women, and through this, the generation of important economic, cultural, social and environmental benefits arising for and spreading through the entire local population. After these two chapters, the main conclusions and recommendations of the doctoral thesis are presented, synthetizing the main results of the investigation. The PhD Thesis also accounts for relevant methods of analysis, and develops two theoretical original models and their empirical estimates, through Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) techniques, and using the Smart PLS 3.2 software. The Thesis is written in good English language, reaching a paper from the second chapter in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (Q1 in JCR-SSCI in Management), giving an added value to the research.