How could the creative tourism develop in rural area in a sustainable way?

Project: PhD

Project Details


1. research background <Many young adults have recently tried to start a creative rural tourism business in South Korea> Creative tourism, as one branch of many alternative tourism activities being proposed worldwide, has received attention as an effective method to make a place more attractive, and is seen as one potential strategy for diversifying contents of tourism (OECD, 2014). In S. Korea, this particular branch of alternative tourism has caught the attention of budding entrepreneurs in rural tourism. Many young adults recently have started tourism businesses focusing on the creative tourism in rural area. These enters into a context wherein rural communities have tried to create new income sources by developing tourism products using rural resources such as local stories, traditions, life style, and cultural or agricultural heritages. As such, the formulation of creative tourism can be an effective method to preserve rural cultures (Znanstveno raziskovalni center, 2015) and to increase the satisfaction of visitors without degrading rural environment and culture (Kumar, 2020). The growth of rural tourism in general and that of creative tourism as a strategy in particular is caused by several factors. First, the importance of rural tourism has been identified in policy as one of means for rural development in South Korea, diversifying the rural economy. Next, the COVID-19 pandemic caused tourists to pay more attention to rural tourism since rural areas are considered safer. In addition, as youth unemployment soars in the urban, young people tend to seek new income opportunities there. This generation is familiar with cultural products and entertainment, which leads them to start creative rural tourism business with innovative ideas. As such creative tourism offers great potential for growth of rural communities by attracting young people into rural area, increasing urban-rural exchanges, diversifying income resources, and retaining or improving local cultural resources. However, many budding attempt have ended in failure as troubles emerged between residents and business operators, lack of entrepreneurial efforts to discover and understand rural resources, and the lack of promotion strategy. Most of these problems are caused by ignoring the distinctiveness of rural areas and overlooking the importance of cooperation with rural residents. 2. Research question 1) main research question <How could the creative tourism develop in rural area in a sustainable way?> Creative tourism, especially operated by young adults, has a potential to develop as an innovative and alternative type of rural tourism in South Korea. However, if efforts are not put in place to find appropriate ways to make these trials successful, they will end in failure. In this regard, the core research question is how the rural creative tourism operated by young urbanites can develop in a sustainable way. In order to answer this main question, key stakeholders and the stakeholder dynamics involved in development process need to be understood. The stakeholders are rural area(rural residents), tourism operators and consumers. Hence, the research structure entails three sub-questions. 2) sub-research question 1 (about rural area) <what are the meanings or values of the creative tourism operated by young urbanites in rural area?> What are the features and identified tourism resources of a rural area which young urbanites try to develop into creative tourism products and destinations. And alternatively, how do these creative tourism development attempts have meanings and values for rural area and its inhabitants? To answer this research question, I need to conduct an in depth qualitative interpretative research. First, with a focus on the distinct characteristics of ‘rurality’, I will reveal connections between ‘rural’ and ‘creative tourism’ by applying several specific theories associated with ‘rurality’. Next, I need to figure out how these connections are drawing young urbanites attention by applying theories or ongoing discussion related to generational gaps and urban rural dichotomies. In this discussion, I will conduct case studies as well as literature reviews and document analysis. When it comes to the case studies, the representative cases should be chosen based on the mazimum variation sampling. I will select four cases that have different qualities within my reseach topic. In addition, in order to investigate these cases, the method of 'focus group interview' would be effective to draw meaningful opinions and stories of them. I will visit each case organization and have interviews with the group members by gathering them in a place. As creative tourism initiatives and organizations operated by young urbanites are spread out rather than gathered in a certain area, four different case study sites will be focused upon, representing different initiatives of creative tourism and different rural contexts. The list of case tourism companies or organizations that I will look into is ① ‘REPLACE’ in Mungyeong city of kyeongsangbuk-do province, ② ‘HAPPYTOURSHARE’ in Hongseong of Chungnam province, ③ ‘G.I.ANT’ in Seocheon of Chungnam province, ④ ‘NADURI’ in Yangpyeong of Gyeonggi Province. The below chart shows the unique features of these four case organizations. Finally, by integrating insights from these strands of research, I will identify meanings and values of the creative tourism operated by young urbanites in rural areas. The assumptions is that tourism develops in connections with different things such as local identity, values, pride, leisure or cultural business, and local’s economic growth (Huijbens & Jóhannesson, 2019). 3) sub-research question 2. (about tourism operator) < what type of organization is needed to produce successful results in creative rural tourism? > Creative rural tourism operated and initiated by young adults has caused friction with residents, stemming from the situation that strangers utilize the rural resources to make a profit. In this regard, DMO(destination management organization) is important, which would make a win-win strategy that obtains the success of business and the development of local area without harming local identity or resident’s well-being. The actual cases of South Korea indicates that the success of projects depends on what types of organizations they construct. However, there is not a concrete concept about DMO in South Korea. Despite several attempts to create a DMO for certain regions, most of them failed. In this regard, I think it is a crucial to examine an appropriate DMO structure for rural creative tourism. Herein the cases will be revisited combining qualitative and quantitative research. I will identify attributes of DMO by literature reviews in the first step. And then, I will conduct surveys and in-depth interviews with stakeholders of these cases in order to deduce implications for an ideal DMO. 4) sub-research question 3. < How much do consumers value these tourism products? > There is a shortage of consumer studies on rural tourism in South Korea. This is because rural tourism operated by farmers tends to depend on the government grants without business strategies. On the other hand, young urbanites who try to do creative rural tourism business seek profits by innovative management and product development. Implementing consumer analysis would help to find the way for developing the rural creative tourism product that would align with the values ascribed to the rural area and the complexity of stakeholder dynamics formalised in the proposed DMO structure. I will research consumers’ cognition on the value of the tourism products offered in the case study sites and intention to pay for them, which could confirm whether it is able to become marketable goods. It is closely associated to its sustainability because tourism products could not survive without consumer’s interest or willingness to pay for it. This part requires doing a consumer survey and analyzing the data with applying theories in the field of consumer behavior. The key findings of this study will help future rural economic diversification strategies using tourism. In this particular case the rural-urban dynamics of S. Korea are applicable to wider development trends in the Global North and the measures of success identified could provide insights for other activities in S. Korea and beyond. <related previous studies> OECD (2014). Tourism and the creative economy. Paris: OECD. Kumar, S. (2020). Technology and innovation: Changing concept of rural tourism–A systematic review. Open Geosciences, 12(1), 737-752. Znanstveno raziskovalni center. (2015). The synergy of culture and tourism for the development of rural areas. Znanstveno raziskovalni center. Huijbens, E. H., & Jóhannesson, G. T. (2019). Tending to destinations: Conceptualising tourism’s transformative capacities. Tourist Studies, 19(3), 279-294. Richards, G. (2009). Creative tourism and local development. Creative Tourism: A global conversation, 78-90. Komppula, R. (2014). The role of individual entrepreneurs in the development of competitiveness for a rural tourism destination–A case study. Tourism Management, 40, 361-371. Arbogast, D., Deng, J., & Maumbe, K. (2017). DMOs and rural tourism: A stakeholder analysis the case of Tucker County, West Virginia. Sustainability, 9(10), 1813. López-Sanz, J. M., Penelas-Leguía, A., Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, P., & Cuesta-Valiño, P. (2021). Sustainable development and consumer behavior in rural tourism—the importance of image and loyalty for host communities. Sustainability, 13(9), 4763.
Effective start/end date15/11/22 → …


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