The role of participation in sustainable tourism industry (Case study: Sarein)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor, Department of Geography and Urban Planning, University of Kharazmi, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Urban Planning, University of Kharazmi, Iran

3 Ph.D. Candidate in Geography and Urban Planning, University of Kharazmi, Iran

4 Assistant Professor, University of Mohaghegh Ardebili, Iran


Tourism is a powerful force of change in the economy in both the developed and the least developed countries. Due to the formation of the concept of sustainable development, Tourism industry like other industries has been seeking the ways to further alignment with the concept. Sustainable tourism as a form of alternative tourism, is seeking to improve the quality of life for local residents, promoting tourism experiences and environmental preservation of destination. Therefore, this is linked inextricably with the people and community and participation of local communities is essential to maintain and develop the basic planning for the development and management of tourism. Necessity of attention to the concept of community participation as one of the most important components of a sustainable tourism industry make the tourism industry using the community as a resource, selling community product, and ultimately affects the life of each people. The pattern seems to be optimal in this relationship and in nature is also related to the sustainable development of tourism, the pattern is a community-based tourism. This pattern requires significant participation of a community in sustainable tourism. However, the pattern of community participation in tourism, particularly in developing countries such as Iran, has been inactive participation. Hence, the exception of the formal hosts or people involved in tourism activities maintain that the local communities should be considered as a key resource for achieving sustainable tourism, not have any formal responsibility as the host of tourism activities. The purpose of this study was to determine the status of community participation of Sarein, as one of the poles of the tourism industry in Iran, in sustainable tourism and from this perspective, the introduction of participatory approaches as a strategy for sustainable development of tourism in the study area.
This study in terms of target is an applied research and based on nature it is a survey descriptive– analytical research. In order to collect data, we used the combined approach, means the combination of library and field methods such as questionnaires. The statistical population based on the research questions is all residents of Sarein responsible for tourism activities. The sample size (353 patients) was determined according to the formula of cochran and multi-stage cluster sampling was used as the sampling method. Two types of descriptive statistics and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data. In section of descriptive statistics, to describe the research variables we utilized descriptive statistics such as frequency distributions. In section of inferential statistics, bivariate relationships have been used and the results have also been interpreted using Pearson correlation and multivariate relationships using multiple regression and path analysis.
Results and Discussion
Two types of descriptive statistics and inferential statistics were used to analyze variables. The findings of descriptive statistics of the study showed that the tourism industry in Sarein has not favorable conditions in different economic, social - cultural and environmental aspects. This can be viewed by the lack of participatory mechanisms as a major factor in explaining this situation. Despite the high tendency of Sarein local residents to participate in tourism activities, the same people actual participation rates are low in tourism activities. The findings based on inferential statistical analysis also showed that there is a positive and stronger correlation between the level of participation of local residents and sustainable tourism industry in terms of socio- cultural compared with economic and environmental dimensions. Correlation between the level of participation and sustainability of the tourism industry from the perspective of economic and environmental is in lower rank order in priority. In addition to confirming this issue, the test of path analysis determined the exact value of effects of the three variables of social-cultural and economic participation and environmental participation in sustainable tourism industry. The test showed that recent variables moreover obtained the rank of second and third according to direct impact on the sustainable development of tourism. This has also indirect effects on the situation. Creating appropriate and correct provisions in the direction of promoting social- cultural participations of tourism can improve economic and environmental favorable conditions in terms of participation and hence achieving sustainable development of tourism.
This study aims to assess the status of Sarein local community participation in the activities related to sustainable tourism based on the survey and using field data. Therefore, we studied each of the participation and sustainable tourism industry variables and the relationships between each of them in three aspects of economic, social- cultural and environmental conditions. The assessments made in this regard indicated that there is a good level of willing to participate in tourism activities by the local population of Sarein and the value has also relatively good level but not in sustainability. Because the mechanism of the tourism industry in Sarein is such that the majority of local residents do not have a role in participation of tourism activities, the potential of participation to achieving sustainable development of tourism in Sarein has good priority order. By creating appropriate and correct provisions in the direction of promoting social- cultural participations of tourism, we can be hopeful to economic and environmental favorable conditions in terms of participation and achieving sustainable development of tourism in Sarein.


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