Networking between small tourism businesses and its contribution to destination development.
Tinsley, R. (2004) Networking between small tourism businesses and its contribution to destination development., no. 428.
This thesis aims to further understanding of networks in tourism. Specifically, it focuses on networking between small tourism businesses and its contributions to destination development. These networks are understood in terms of social, communication and exchange relations. The research is located within the context of contemporary debates regarding small businesses and networking. Within tourism, it can be located in wider research regarding destination development and community tourism. The literature review examines early sociological studies on networks, providing a background to small business literature on networks. Early research tends to be quantitative-driven whilst later research stresses the need for a greater cultural understanding of network phenomena. Within tourism development, there is a move away from rigid models based on physical expansion to ones which stress the socially constructed nature of tourism destination evolution. This is complimentary to the 'organic' nature of networks. Field research was undertaken using a methodology called interpretative anthropology. Data was collected in two destinations with differing levels of tourism infrastructure development. One was in Scotland and the other was in India, resulting in in-depth interviews with a total of 34 respondents. Participant observation was additionally used in the Indian context. Collective templates were developed from the data and presented in two main areas. The first provided a social background to the business community and the second illustrated business networking as an integrated part of wider social norms. These were then discussed in relation to social, communication and exchange networks and their contributions to destination development. Practical implications of the findings are identified in relation to business growth and tourism destination development. A key outcome is that less developed tourism infrastructure results in greater reliance on networking between businesses, whilst more developed infrastructure reduces direct business contribution. The former results in a more directly significant contribution to tourism destination development than in the latter. The key is to achieve equilibrium between horizontal and vertical network support, rather than a transition from informal to formal. A further significant outcome is the influence of destination size and social network density. This impacts on the nature and effectiveness of the tourism businesses' contribution to destination development. Destination size and social network density are also significant success factors when viewed from an internal destination perspective i.e. sub-communities and/or tourism sectors. These are identified as crucial to understanding and supporting tourism business communities. The community embeddedness of networks means smaller business communities have much greater control and regulation of their own members, and their contribution to tourism destination development. This is achieved through stronger social norms. Support agencies need to be aware of this when assisting business communities, with advice tailored accordingly.