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Appreciative Inquiry and Rural Tourism: A Case Study from Canada

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Many Canadian, resource-based communities are facing an economic crisis and often turn to tourism for economic diversification and some recent trends in the growth of tourism employment in Canada's rural areas suggest that such choices are well founded. Despite positive growth indicators, rural tourism is criticized for several reasons, including issues with employment, ownership and lack of understanding of the industry. Although much has been written on the development of community-based tourism and its potential to address such concerns, much of the discussion remains at theoretical levels, with few examinations of practical frameworks for rural communities in crisis, such as the current experience in North-western Ontario, Canada. Enquiries into tourism's contribution to rural community economic development identified two gaps concerning how rural tourism can be a viable industry in resource-dependent communities and how to embed the industry within a community seeking alternatives from a deficit/crisis context. Interviews with a tourism operator in rural Manitoba, Canada seemed to provide an answer to both of these questions, through the application of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to rural tourism development. Such an examination indicates that although such an approach does not solve the issues, it does provide a new lens through which to understand the potential for tourism in rural communities.
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Keywords: Appreciative inquiry; economic development; rural tourism development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University, ON, Canada

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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