WP6 - Life style entrepreneurship (pdf edition)

WP6 - Life style entrepreneurship (pdf edition)

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Raija Komppula, Hilkka Lassila

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Main Description

Life style entrepreneurship, an opportunity for sustainable tourism development or a threat for rural tourism growth?



Sustainable tourism development has been defined e.g. as "development, which meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhanching opportunity for the future". Rural tourism has widely been seen as almost synonymous with sustainable tourism. (Sharpley 2002) The development of rural tourism has often been seen as a tool for developing the declining areas by providing additional forms of employment, reducing out-migration and declining population base and helps to sustain thresholds for service provision (Page & Getz 1997). This implies that the industries have low barriers to entry.
Enterprise growth has been handled through various life cycle approaches in which enterprises follow predetermined phases from birth to death via periods of fast growth (Kolvereid 1992). Common to these described approaches is that they take growth for granted: firms are expected to be willing to and capable of growing (Johannisson 1990, Wiklund et.al. 1997). At the same time many researchers have come to a conclusion that maintaining the present enterprise size is satisfying even for the majority of enterprises (Davidsson 1991) .
According to Carlsen and Getz (2000) in rural tourism motives and goals in running the businesses will be somewhat different from other sectors and from non-family businesses in general. Frequently small, farm-based family businesses are established to support the main farm businesses, but are also set up as a sideline or hobby, usually by females. Another major goal is a desired lifestyle in the countryside. In terms of operating goals, there is an emphasis on maintaining high moral standards and quality service, although maintaining profitability is also an important operating goal.
In this paper we present results of a study conducted in a rural region in Finland. Growth of the business was not considered as important as enjoying of the job and keeping business manageable in size. A desire to maintain close personal contact with the customers is typical for the rural tourism entrepreneurs. Seasonality is a big operational problem. Business plans are not common. The conflict between business goals and goals for the family was evident. Another important issue was the lack of succession planning in rural tourism family business. We also discuss the results in the light of the National Rural tourism Development Strategy, which aims to double the volumes of the Finnish rural tourism businesses in the next five years.

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