The Role of Entrepreneurial Climate in Rural Tourism Development

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Tourism development has been embraced in the last decade as an economic development tool for rural areas. A parallel movement has recently swelled, emphasizing entrepreneurship as a viable strategy for economic sustenance. This study combines the two areas, and in particular examines the entrepreneurial climate of a community and its contribution to tourism development. A scale of 36-items was developed to assess various aspects of a community known to support entrepreneurial activity. The scale was combined with demographic questions and items to assess a respondent's general attitude towards tourism to form the survey instrument, which was then distributed via email to 3,290 North Carolina residents. Ultimately, 92 respondents were included in the sample, resulting in a 3% response rate. Exploratory factor analysis was used principle component analysis with Varimax rotation was used to reveal seven subscales of entrepreneurial climate (e-climate). The seven subscales were labeled Community Culture, Training & Assistance, Institutional Support, Quality of Life Amenities, Business Services, Economic Development-Infrastructure Support, and Natural Resources-Tourism Business Support. These e-climate subscales, along with additional county-based descriptors, were included as independent variables in a multiple regression analysis to determine their importance in explaining the dependent variable Tourism Expenditures. County-based descriptors included the economic health of a county (Economic Tier), the population and remoteness of the county (Rural-Urban Continuum Code), the level of tourism support in the county (Tourism Support), and the potential for tourism development (Tourism Opportunity). Multiple regression analysis revealed a model of five variables can be attributed to explain nearly 33% of the variance Tourism Expenditures: Rural-Urban Continuum Code, Economic Tier, Tourism Opportunity, Business Services and Economic Development-Infrastructure Support. Rural-Urban Continuum code explained the most variance (18%), followed by Economic Tier (10%). The combined e-climate subscales of Business Services and Economic Development-Infrastructure Support explained 10.5% of the variance in the dependent variable. Additional analyses were conducted to assess differences between groups on the seven e-climate subscales. Differences between groups would indicate a need for programmatic, marketing and/or educational changes. Sixteen variables were examined; four were based on county characteristics and twelve were based on traits of respondents. Out of 28 analyses on county-based variables, nine statistically significant differences were found at the p<.05 level and ten at the p<.10 level. Out of 84 analyses on respondent-based variables, only eight statistically significant differences were found at the p<.05 level and eleven at the p<.10 level. This study contributes to the measurement of entrepreneurial climate as well as to the understanding of its impact on tourism development.



rural, tourism, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial climate





Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management