Place identity: sustainability performance relationship among rural tourism entrepreneurs
Väisänen, Hanna-Maija; Törn-Laapio, Anne (2018)
Minna Tunkkari-Eskelinen; Anne Törn-Laapio
Academic Conferences and Publishing International
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Väisänen H., Törn-Laapio A., (2018). Place identity: sustainability performance relationship among rural tourism entrepreneurs. . (Ed)., Proceedings of the International Conference on Tourism Research, ICTR 2018. Hosted by JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland, 22 - 23 March 2018., Academic Conferences and Publishing International.
Place identity is the symbolic significance that an individual has for a specific place or locality. The term encompasses the ways in which physical and symbolic attributes of certain locations contribute to an individual’s sense of identity. Place identity is also related to the concept of place attachment. At the individual level it has been proposed that an individual’s positive place identity has a positive effect on pro-environment behavior. The place attachment may also explain an individual’s attitudes to environmental concern and issues. Similarly, it has been found that there is a positive relationship between place identity and entrepreneurial performance. Therefore, an interesting question arises: Is there a relationship between place identity and sustainability performance? The objective of this study was to examine the concept of place identity in regarding the sustainability performance relationship of rural tourism enterprises. The theoretical framework is built from place identity and the concept of sustainable development. The material consists of interviews with 24 rural tourism entrepreneurs. The themes of the interviews comprise descriptions of the /countryside/scenery/ and cultural heritage, the sense of communality, cooperation with stakeholders, sustainability actions and background information. The rural tourism entrepreneurs were aware of the features of the surrounding countryside and cultural environment and were /inspired/motivated/ to protect them in different ways. Entrepreneurs were more aware of the cultural heritage of the place than of natural values. There were no differences as to where the entrepreneurs came from or whether they had a special relationship to the place. The enterprises utilized the historical and cultural elements of the area in their business and in so doing they preserved the heritage, which was a sign of the entrepreneur’s place attachment. In most cases the sense of community was perceived as being positive, but the feelings of losing the communality was also expressed. It seems that the place identity has a positive relationship to the sustainability performance of the rural tourism entrepreneurs, but it is not the only reason for entrepreneurs’ actions. The finding explains the importance of place identity in the sustainability development, but on the other hand, the study reveals the spectrum of other factors influencing it.