Problems and Limitations of Rural Tourism, Using Grounded Theory (Case-study: Harir Village, Kermanshah Province)



Introduction: Tourism as a 21st century phenomenon is among the major sources of economic incentives which plays an important role in cultural, social, and economic development of human beings. Rural tourism is a new orientation in tourist industry because of relatives that advantage it offers. Moreover, it provides income and employment opportunities to rural villagers. Rural tourism brings out a need for rural economy and development. Rural tourism industry can be used as a strategy in overcoming current challenges inherent in rural economy. Furthermore, there are increasing challenges facing rural stability such as poverty, unemployment, lack of sanitation, lack of food security, migration, marginalization, environmental degradation, ect. This dilemma has made rural development practitioners to search for strategies that can overcome these challenges in rural areas.
Methodology: The purpose of this qualitative study has been to shed light on problems and challenges inherent in Harir village, using grounded theory approach. This village is located in Dalahoo Township, Kermanshah province. The population used in this study included residents of Harir village. Data were collected using in-depth interview, direct and non-participatory observations, field notes as well as group discussions. In order to give depth and breaths to current study, slides, films, library and internet search have also been used. To cross check the external validity of the results, a meeting was called between the researchers and the experts in Travel and Tourism Organization in Kermanshah province. One of the limitations of qualitative study is lack of statistical generalization. Although some researchers believe that qualitative studies are rich in nature and provide in-depth information on topic being studied. In other words, the depth of phenomenon under study is more important than extend of area as a focal point in the study. Data analysis started while collecting data simultaneously, For example, during open coding, the researchers tried to comprehend the relationships between concepts. After constant comparison, a total of 43 concepts were identified. A special code was then given to each key concept. A total of 33 key concepts were derived from deep interviews with rural experts and were given a label of (M). In addition, a total of 10 key concepts were derived from in-depth interviews with the experts in Travel and Tourism Organization which were given a label of (K).

Results: During the axial coding, concepts obtained in open coding were compared and analyzed for sub-categories and final categories with new meaning emerged. These new categories were listed as fallows: lack of infrastructure, lack of timely information dissemination, reduction in cultural attractions, lack of understanding of tourism among rural people and village administrators, lack of governmental attention to rural tourism, sudden climate change, inadequate and inaccurate information, and lack of motivation among rural administrators. Finally, in selective coding, sentences that were coded in previous step were combined to present relationships among categories and concepts. Thus, the conceptual framework of the study started to emerge. The comparison of concepts led the researchers to two main categories of “problems” and “challenges” that connected the concepts together. Results revealed that problems in Harir village are: lack of infrastructure, lack of understanding of tourism among rural people and village administrators, reduction in cultural attraction, lack of governmental support, and lack of timely information dissemination. Moreover, the limitations included inadequate and inaccurate informations, and sudden climatic changes.
Conclusion: Based upon the results of the study, it is recommended that rural administrators provide motivational incentives among rural investors to initiate financial and technical support in tourism projects. The implementation and monitoring of these projects should be given to the local villagers. All amenities such as hotels, parkings, and other facilities should be included in the project. Moreover, building structures should adhere to traditional architecture in order to preserve the beauty of local landscape. The estimation of incoming tourists in given Seasons can help to organize accommodation for guests and visitors. It is further suggested that through educational schemes, rural villagers be made aware of advantages in rural tourism and how it can benefit their welfare. Using mass media as well as in-service training of rural policy-makers could assist in bringing about the public awareness. It is further suggested that in order to preserve the cultural heritage among rural people and help preserve rural attraction. Rural administrators can also organize fairs to demonstrate rural handcrafts. This can be achieved by inviting the experts in rural handicrafts to teach villagers how to preserve these precious arts and crafts. In regards to climatic changes, it is imperative when planning for tourist advertisement. For example, rural administrators and Tourist and Travel Organization can provide tourist calendars to wake people aware of the best times for making visits.