Profile of Positive and Negative Motivations of Local (Urban-Rural) Tourism during the Corona (SARS-CoV-2) Disease Epidemic

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of Geography, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Environment, Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


The epidemic of the corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) in the years 2020 until now (2022) has caused the emergence of critical conditions in the global arena and has transformed the international economic, social and environmental equations. The tourism industry, as one of the most important areas affected by this crisis, is experiencing new conditions due to the restrictions and quarantines imposed at the international, national and local levels, which have led to new opportunities, challenges and threats. Currently, due to the continuation of the restrictions caused by the Corona epidemic in Iran, inter-provincial travel has been announced as limited and prohibited, and in this situation, local tourism has become the focus of many people's attention as a cheap, accessible and desirable option. The aim of the current research is to investigate the motivations of local tourism (urban-rural) during the Corona epidemic with a qualitative approach, with the help of the grounded theory method. The studied population were Mashhad tourists who had at least five local tourism trips (urban-rural) in 2018 and 2019. The sample size of the research was conducted using the two criteria of "diversity" and "reaching the theoretical saturation point" with 44 semi-structured interviews. The interviews were fully implemented and then the open, central and selective codes were counted. The findings of this research indicate that the underlying conditions of attracting tourists to local tourist destinations during the Corona pandemic were "meeting relatives and taking care of personal affairs" and "accommodation in ecotourism resorts". Also, the intervening conditions were "nature tourism experiences" and "village tourism experiences", causal conditions, "corona stress and health issues" and "visiting cultural-historical attractions", strategies "physical organization of local tourism spaces", ecological revitalization of the environment" and " Reconstruction of the rural fabric" and the consequences, "diversification of the rural economy", "protection of the village environment", "giving identity to the village body" and "relaxation and mental and physical healing of tourists" have been. Based on this, the paradigm model of the current research was presented and some suggestions were made.
Extended Abstract
The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has had a major impact on a wide range of industries, especially the tourism industry. The effects of this epidemic were long-term quarantines and closures or a significant reduction in the capacity to provide tourism services, resulting in a major blow to global, national and local economies. In Iran, on February 19, 2020, two patients in the city of Qom were confirmed as positive coronavirus, and shortly afterwards, the disease spread with incredible speed in all provinces of the country. Mashhad was one of the metropolises that faced the epidemic of coronavirus and was forced to follow the strict law of quarantine. During this period, according to the official announcement of the Ministry of Health, inter-provincial tourism trips were banned in the country for a long period of time, and heavy fines were imposed on tourists who left their native provinces for unnecessary reasons such as tourism.
Since the official announcement of the outbreak of the disease and the application of quarantines until now, the only possible tourism alternatives for many residents of the country's provinces is intra-provincial destinations. Therefore, the citizens of Mashhad have been able to travel to cities and villages within the province of Khorasan Razavi only if they follow the rules. The aim of this study was to identify the main motivation of Mashhad citizens from local (urban-rural) tourism. With this explanation, it should be said that although in recent years significant research such as research by Demirovich et al. (2019), Lewis and Alessandra (2019), Garms et al. (2017), Badri et al. (2015), Bayat and Badri (2015), Rezvani et al. (1397), Habibi and Mahmoudi (1396) and Mokhtari et al. (1399) have been done in this field, but in the study area, no research based on identifying the motivations of tourists has been done. In addition, the lack of similar research in the current critical period in the situation of epidemics and quarantine and the simultaneous study of positive motivations as attractive factors of tourism by granded theory, which has not been studied simultaneously in any previous research, are among the innovations of this study.
The present study uses a qualitative approach and contextual theory to collect data from in-depth interviews (formal or semi-structured) to help achieve a paradigm model through inductive reasoning and extracted concepts that explain the motivation of Mashhad tourists to local tourism during the epidemic. Be coronary heart disease. The sampling method is purposeful by trying to obtain the maximum variety that provides the most information about the research topic. Data collection continued until theoretical saturation was achieved and until the categories became stable. In this regard, in-depth interviews were conducted with 44 citizens living in Mashhad who had at least 5 local trips in the period in question, in person, by phone and in cyberspace (Skype and Google Mate software). Data analysis is based on grounded theory.
Results and discussion
Descriptive statistics of the respondents show that the number of interviewees is equal in terms of gender and each constitutes 50%. The mean age of the respondents was 29 years and most of them were 17 (38.6%) in the age groups of 22 to 26 years and 14 (32%) were over 36 years, respectively. Most of the respondents (29.6%) had a master's degree and the majority (50%) were students.
Interviews were fully implemented and then open source, pivotal, and selective codes were enumerated. The findings of this study indicate that the background conditions for attracting tourists to local tourism destinations during the Corona pandemic were "visiting relatives and taking care of personal affairs" and "accommodation in ecotourism resorts". Also intervening conditions were "nature experiences" and "rural experiences", causal conditions, "corona stress and health issues" and "visiting cultural-historical attractions", strategies "physical organization of local tourism spaces", ecological revitalization of the environment. And "Rural Reconstruction" and its consequences, "Diversity to the rural economy", "Protection of the rural environment", "Identification to the local architecture of the village" and "Peace and relief of the mental, psychological and physical healing of tourists". Based on this, the paradigm model of the present study was presented and some suggestions were made.
The findings about Corona disease is on the rise and the unknown nature of the disease and the many bad news reports in the media have significantly heightened public anxiety. This growing anxiety, called coronary stress, is more and more worrying for people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and medical staff, including doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who are in direct and indirect contact with the disease. Therefore, in analyzing the findings and matching the results, it should be said that the most important factor of the interviewees was coronary stress and health issues with 65.9%, which fully indicates the concern of people about health threats. Also, the most lost, which 47.7% of tourists are looking for, is peace of mind, mental and physical.
The results of the present study, unlike Jafari and Hafezizadeh (2017), who considered the most important factor in attracting tourists to rural areas as ownership or residence in second homes, and the research of Ali Gholizadeh Firoozjaei et al. The tourist destination considers social and cultural tourism attractions as the most important factor in attracting tourists, and considers the relaxation and relief of mental, psychological and physical tensions as the most important and key factor in attracting tourists. This study is in line with the findings of Yaghoubi and Zubeidi (1397) who explained the provision of a calm environment as one of the main motivations for reverse migration to the village and also mentioned psychological peace as one of its consequences.
At the end, 8 strategic proposals for the sustainable development of local tourism in villages and small towns in the province were presented to the competent authorities.


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