Small-business owners' attitudes towards tourism and capacity for innovation: a case study in rural northwestern ontario
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Rural communities in much of the developed world have turned to tourism as a possible means to assist with the decline of traditional extractive industries (such as forestry and mining) and the resulting negative impacts on the economy and population (Petrzelka et al, 2005; Beshiri, 2005a, 2005b; Fuller-Love, 2008; Byrd et al, 2009; Harril, 2004; Long et al, 1990). In northern Ontario many communities remain reliant on the traditional primary sectors (Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, 2009). There is an increasing reliance on the private sector, specifically the small-business sector to provide product and service development for tourism in rural communities including accommodation options, restaurants, attractions, entertainment and retail opportunities (Frederick, 1993; Siemens, 2007; Ioannides, 1995).These rural small-business owners face the dual pressures of providing everyday products not only to their community but also to tourists that come throughout the year. A qualitative case study analysis was conducted in northwestern Ontario, Canada in the Top of the Superior region on small-business owners (n=17) involved in tourism (directly and indirectly) specifically examining their attitudes towards tourism and the opportunities for innovation at the firm and network levels. The study took place in the communities of Dorion, Red Rock, and Nipigon, as this is a region identified as in need of tourism product development. In the last decade this region has experienced change in its economic and social structure due to the decline of the forest industry which served as the primary economic foundation.