Document Type : Research Article
Department of Business Management, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran
Department of Tourism Marketing, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran
Today, the most valuable marketing tool used by tourism businesses to gain a competitive advantage is experience. Ecotourism residences are among the sectors of the tourism industry that can gain a lot of benefits by providing rich and memorable experiences to tourists. The purpose of the current research is to identify the drivers and obstacles that exist in the path of realizing these experiences in the eco-tourism residences of Semnan province. To achieve this goal, 17 people of owners of ecotourism residences in Semnan province were interviewed. Data analysis was done using the thematic analysis technique. From the point of view of the owners of ecotourism accommodation, on the one hand, there are drivers (such as administrative-institutional factors, technological factors, and socio-cultural factors) and on the other hand, there are obstacles (such as socio-cultural, environmental, educational, economic, infrastructural, institutional-organizational and weakness in Marketing) exists for the development of experience-oriented tourism. Paying more and more attention to the creation of stimuli makes the owners of the ecotourism accommodation offer a richer and more memorable experience to the tourists. This will strengthen the development of experience-oriented tourism. On the other hand, neglecting to remove the obstacles and limitations will make the success of the accommodations in providing a rich experience to tourists and as a result, the speed of development of experience-oriented tourism in the ecotourism accommodations of Semnan province will decrease.
Nowadays, experience is the most valuable marketing tool used by tourism businesses to gain a competitive advantage. In the meantime, creating a memorable experience through each travel service component can be designed and tracked. One of these components is the provision of accommodation services that can make an unforgettable memory in the mind of a tourist. But the provision of accommodation services can take different forms; one of these emerging forms in our country is eco-resorts. Eco-resorts are often formed in rural areas, and pristine nature and efforts have been made to observe environmental norms and interaction with the local community as much as possible. In other words, eco-resorts are also among the tourism industry sectors that can reap significant benefits by offering rich and memorable experiences to tourists. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify the drivers and barriers that exist in the path of realization of these experiences in eco-resorts of Semnan province.
The present study is part of applied and qualitative researches. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 owners of eco-resorts of Semnan province to collect data. The interviewees were selected based on snowball sampling. The sampling process continued until the theoretical saturation was reached. In order to analyze the output text of the interviews, the content analysis technique was used. In this way, the texts of the interviews provide the data needed to perform the analysis. Also, MAXQDA software was exerted to perform these analyzes. In the meantime, a set of basic, organizing, and inclusive themes were identified.
Result and discussion
The first comprehensive theme related to drivers of experience-oriented tourism in eco-resorts of Semnan province is institutional-managerial factors, which include four themes of organizing actions and effective management of local government, increasing cooperation of destination stakeholders with each other, program partnerships, and marketing expansion. The results also showed that the second comprehensive theme related to drivers of experience-oriented tourism in eco-resorts of Semnan province is the technology factor, which includes the theme of organizing the provision of telecommunications. The third comprehensive theme related to the drivers of experience-oriented tourism development in the eco-resorts of Semnan province is a socio-cultural factor that includes two themes of organizing the flexibility of social relations between the local community and tourists, and paying attention to holding special events. In contrast, barriers include socio-cultural, environmental, educational, economic, infrastructural, institutional-organizational, and marketing weaknesses. Socio-cultural themes include lack of proper organization, lack of awareness of tourists 'demands, conflict and differences between tourists' culture and the host community, problems of verbal communication, and lack of participation and cooperation. Environmental barriers include air and noise pollution, damage to flora, wildlife threats, and the destruction of local landscapes. Inclusive educational themes include lack of knowledge and education, and comprehensive economic themes include sanctions, lack of investor support, exchange rate fluctuations, and lack of necessary financial facilities. Infrastructural barriers include the lack of amenities and services, and the non-standardization of roads and communication routes. The institutional-organizational theme consists of organizing expertise shortage and mismanagement. Eventually, weaknesses in marketing are also related to the category of information and advertising problems.
Strengthening the calculated drivers in order to create a satisfactory experience for tourists in eco-resorts of Semnan province is one of the important issues that should be considered in order to emphasize the outputs of this study. On the other hand, removing the identified barriers can lead to the increasing success of the province's eco-resorts in the development of experience-oriented tourism. In addition, other suggestions that can be considered at a smaller level are policy-making and principled support for the expansion of eco-resorts, innovation, and creativity in providing experiences in ecotourism, promoting ethical codes in ecotourism, consulting in cyberspace from tourists about their experience in ecotourism, informing tourists about the sensitive habitats around eco-resorts, informing local people, facilitating the process of granting financial facilities to eco-resorts, using expert consultants in the field of ecotourism and finally, advertising the ecotourism of Semnan province in the national media.