Community participation as a driver of sustainable tourism. The case of an Italian village: Marettimo Island

  • Gianpaolo Basile
  • Mario Tani
  • Mauro Sciarelli
  • Maria Antonella Ferri
Keywords: community participation; sustainable tourism; authenticity; place attachment


Purpose of the paper: The paper aims to study the role of community participation in an Italian marginal area in contributing to the social innovation phenomenon in which residents focus their economic efforts on tourism development. It aims to verify if community participation may enhance the tourists’ perception of authenticity and the safeguarding of local resources.

Methodology: The authors present a theoretical framework and a case study of Marettimo, an Italian village. The paper analyses the interrelationships between authenticity and community participation and the community role in safeguarding local resources within the tourist’s “living like a local” experience.

Findings: Community participation is seen as a relevant and significant factor in facilitating the interaction between the tourist and the place, and as a meaningful drive to strengthen both tourist perception of authenticity and its attachment to the place.

Practical implications: The paper highlights how local communities and tourism actors, may coordinate to create “authentic” tourist experiences. In this context, the paper presents and prescribes the role of community participation and authenticity to make stakeholders feel the importance of not only becoming place ambassadors but also place resources safeguards.

Limitations of the research: As for all case studies, the findings highlighted in this paper may be difficult to generalize to other rural and fishing areas without a further process of adaptation.

Originality of the paper: The proposed framework fills the gap in the role of community participation particularly in those areas with environmental and anthropological resources that can create tourist place attachment but, at the same time, are characterized by depopulation and limited welfare conditions as well.


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