Tourism is a multidisciplinary subject integrated with numerous sectors. Tourism products can’t be owned by a single proprietor or single industry rather it is an amalgamation of Attraction, Accessibility, Amenities, Accommodation, Activities and Ancillary services (6As). Yet, market forces determining their conventional tourism value chain is limited with some formal Actors and Agencies through some standard and stereo type services and facilities. This controls the wider stakeholder participation through backward and forward linkages event thoughtourism is an integrated and inclusive industry inherently. Although most of the industries supply the good to the market, with the rural tourism market travels to the products. Inherent limitation of conventional Tourism Value Chain (TVC)generates only marginal benefits and opportunities in rural landscapes where we find fascinating attractions, authenticities and activities exclusively. Thisintensifies the inclusive growth and responsible TVC through participation of wider stakeholders through diverse Actor and Agency. When inclusive growth and responsible TVC emerge, rural tourism embraces with symbiosis along with moral obligation and coexistence.
The symbiotic unit of rural tourism comprises with all stakeholders and embraces with the basic unit that interlinked with Authorities, Enterprises, Associations and all Practitioners in rural sector. In light of 6As of TVC rural tourism appears with six sub symbiotic units that represents rural attractions, rustic accessibilities, countryside amenities, organic accommodation, community based activities and uncommercial ancillary services. Symbiotic environment of rural tourism comprises withall the natural and human geographical resources includingnative social, political, ecological, economic market and other environmental factors. This also includes rural tourism market environment that is constituted by specific rural tourism consumers and suppliers along with public service providers related to tourism. Symbiotic model of rural tourism collated with operations and management to embracesymbiosis in the development process to ensure inclusivity and sustainability in rural areas while balancing the tourism and impactson environment.
The symbiotic model drives rural tourism development to symbiotic state through co-existence that embodies tourism for inclusive growth and sustainability. This requires proactive management inevitably to ensure the benefits of each other’s existence to strengthen the optimum symbiotic relationship through tourism. When the symbiotic relation is established, tourism would generate plentiful opportunities for inclusive growth of rural people through physical, aesthetic, recreational, scientific and educational contribution. At the same time the rural landscapes will be prevented from the negative impacts to ensure the sustainability. Ultimately,countryside capitalisation promotesresponsible tourism and inclusive growth in rural landscapes to ensure sustainable rural development as shown in the figure given below.
Inclusive Growth and Symbiotic Rural Tourism
Existing conventional TVC embraces with a numerous inherent constraints and limitation to expand or include more value chain Actors and Agencies. Value chain model in the symbiotic rural tourism plays diverse roles in the creation of competitive advantage by the capability of tourism players when creating and managing the rural tourism products with co-operation of wider local stakeholders to distinguish from conventional tourism. Actors and Agencies in symbiotic ruralTVC are inclined to play distinguished roles and supply tourism products to anticipate the demands of exclusive rural tourists with authenticities and exotics of rural environment. Further, each symbiotic sub units of TVC proposes locally owned and community integrated small and micro entrepreneurial business operation and local development while catering the needs of sustainable development. In other words, symbiotic rural TVC intensifies a range of value adding activities along the chain that magnifies rurality, authenticity, countryside uniqueness, organic integration, community participation and uncommercial ancillaries through the functions of collaboration, open communication and sharing of resources, risks and rewards.
Further, Symbiotic TVC is not a collection of independent activities, but an interdependent activities connected by linkages in which one activity performed the cost or effectiveness of other activities that intensifies the co-existence. Thus, the destination logic in TVC identify several sources of competitive advantages can derive through the ability of creation and management of local networks effectively to guarantee the local stakeholders to differentiate and distinguish from conventional tourism destinations. Although Sri Lanka is a small island destination, which possesses a plentiful value chain actors embracing with diverse human and natural geographic characteristics.If symbiotic rural TVC and symbiotic rural environment co-exist through capitalisation of socio-culture and environment, inclusive growth and responsible tourism would fulfil the needs of sustainable development in rural areas.
Sustainable Development and Symbiotic Rural Tourism
There are uncountable dialogues, scientific communications, documents and in addition laws, policies and declaration on critical need of global sustainability. Unexceptionally, the need of sustainable tourism also well documented a large number of Authors and Researchers along with many conferences and their proceedings. Dissatisfaction with existing tourism, growing environmental and cultural sensitivity, declining and scarcity of resource bases, changing attitude of developers andtour operators compelled the world to embark on sustainable tourism. However, lack of awareness and understanding, poor moral obligation, failure in coexistence and absence of responsible TVC curtails the attainment of sustainable development goals.
Improving the knowledge and skills on sustainable development is most prioritised, since rural areas remain with unclear meaning and poor definition on TVC and rural environment. Knowledge and skills are inevitable elements to bridge the theories and concepts on the implementation of sustainable tourism development in rural areas to overcome the socio-economic and environmental challenges. Lack of common understandings and awareness on sustainable rural tourism and holistically integrated rural environment lead to conflict and disputes between tourism development, rural environment and community interests.Capacity building of the rural stakeholders in order to prepare them with a sound knowledge in sustainable tourism development has become a primary requirement to overcome the present challenges or obstructions. Knowledge and skills integration in the development process of rural tourism determines regain, restore and recapitalise the rural natural and man-made resources. This would enable sustainable rural development through symbiotic rural tourism while substituting the widely criticised conventional mass tourism.This intensifies the moral obligation of all the local stakeholders and tourists beyond the legally enforced or authorities intervenedin tourism.
As sustainability and sustainable development are fallen into behavioural science and integrated with attitudes and culture, moral obligation and moral disengagement. Often moral obligation embraces with numerous positive impacts of conservation and preservation of environment and socio-culture while moral disengagement leads to ignore the conservation and degrade socio-culture. Although conventional tourism generates economic benefits to the local community, moral disengagement led the host communities and guests to ignore conservational criteria and bypasssocio-cultural boundaries. This demands extensive resource utilisation and generates substantial negative impacts on environment and socio-culture. Managing and controlling the impacts of tourism on environment and socio-culture through legal enforcement and authority interventionsare momentary and not mutually supported. Rural landscapes are at the critical junction to determine whether to practice consumeristic or conservational tourism. Only the moral obligation of the tourists and host communities encourages a shift from consumeristic behaviour to conservational behaviour under consideration of reciprocally interdependent rural TVC and rural environment.
All the stakeholders of rural TVC and rural environment are required to understand the benefits of one’s existence for another stakeholder. The moral obligations on interdependence and shared common goals of sustainable development convince the value chain actors and the stakeholders of rural areas for co-existence among them and between the sectors. This also indicates that a harmful behaviour or violation of one stakeholder or one sector affect the existence of other stakeholders or other sector. Hence, co-existence can be possible only when recognising benefits of one’s existence for another. Inclusivity and responsibility are the behavioural indicators that show the degree of inclusivity and responsibility among the stakeholders and between sectors in co-existence.
Think inclusively and acting responsibly is the paramount developmental approach to ensure the sustainability in rural areas through co-existence. Inclusion of all the stakeholders and merging of different sectors in the development process of tourism in rural areas would ensure the sharing of benefits among all the stakeholders andbetween the sectors. Responsible practice and performance are inevitable to survive and thrive individually and collectively. Co-existing embedded countryside capitalisation of socio-cultural and natural resources amplifies inclusive growth and responsible tourism. This enables symbiosis in rural tourism development process to aspire sustainability in rural landscapes. The symbiotic system in rural tourism development and practicesexists through benefits sharing among wider rural stakeholders while ensuring to achieve the sustainable development goals. Thus, conservation of ecology, preservation of socio-culture are some of integral components of rural tourism while supporting for local development, community empowerment, innovation and regeneration of business in rural areas. The symbiotic system envisages the ideals of sustainable rural development in real contexts of rural landscapes through well informed and morally obliged tourism that comprises with co-existence and countryside capitalisation for better quality tourism.
Professor (Dr.) M.S.M. Aslam
Professor in Tourism Management
Professor (Dr.) WKAC Gnanapala
Professor in Tourism Management
Dr. Ushan Pieris
Faculty of Management Studies
Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya