Exploring inclusivity perceptions among residents: insights from rural tourism destinations

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Rural destinations are experiencing a boom in demand from tourists. However, the sustainability of rural spaces as tourism destinations is also challenged by a lack of diversity, including cultural homogeneity, and discrimination against underrepresented groups. Addressing this gap, we used social identity theory to examine how residents’ social identities shape their perceptions of inclusivity in rural destinations. We employ a multimethod qualitative study that includes in-depth interviews with residents from four rural destinations. Supplementing these interviews, we ask rural tourists to answer an open-ended questionnaire about their perception of diversity at rural destinations. This study finds that the sustainability of rural destinations is adversely influenced by the processes of social categorization, expressed through intimidation and historical revisionism, and social comparison involving performative allyship that perpetuates covert racism. While linked identity, a crucial pathway within social identification, is vital for fostering inclusive rural tourism environments, complexity rises when residents navigate intragroup conflicts stemming from multiple group identities. This study’s originality lies in its in-depth focus on how destination residents construe and contest their rural identity regarding inclusivity and expand on fluidity and intragroup conflict within sustainable rural tourism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jan 27 2024


  • inclusivity
  • Rural tourism
  • social change
  • social identity theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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