iDiscover Rural Singapore: A mobile driven nature-based tourism experience in an urban destination
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iDiscover Rural Singapore: A mobile driven nature-based tourism experience in an urban destinationPresentation for: 5th International Tourism Studies Association Conference26th to 28th November 2014. Perth WABy: Eunice Tan a, Barkathunnisha b, Rob Law a a School of Hotel & Tourism Management , The Hong Kong Polytechnic Universityb School of the Arts, Murdoch University*
Presentation OutlineIntroductionResearch ObjectivesLiterature ReviewMethodologyFindings & DiscussionsConclusion & Implications*
IntroductionRural tourism development in Urban SingaporeSustainable tourism development has increasingly become a fundamental premise in destination management, tourism planning and policy directions in recent decadesCity in the Garden image and the challenges in balancing economic, social and environmental needs in a land scarce SingaporeUrbanisation and economic transition has led to challenges in rural areas in Singapore which includes depopulation, lack of employment opportunities and cultural declineRural tourism development is deemed as a viable strategy for encouraging economic regeneration of the rural countryside and as means of enhancing the value of conservationTo facilitate community pride and sustain livelihoods, an integrated and sustainable development is needed in rural areas
IntroductionMindful Visitor InterpretationEffective interpretation facilitates the process of information retrieval and visitor learning about a destination Mindful visitor interpretation leads to an understanding and appreciation of the destination and in turn, a desire for the conservation of the placeWhen designing interpretation, there is a need to effectively assimilate the various communications and technological platforms Todays travelers are increasingly adopting the use of online- and mobile-driven interpretive tools to manage their interactive experiences and tourism needs.
Research ObjectivesResearch Question:
How can mobile technology be utilized to facilitate effective sustainable tourism interpretation and mindful visitor learning during rural tourism experiences? *Additionally, the research objectives will specifically investigate: The issues and challenges associated with developing sustainable tourism development within countryside and rural areas in urban destinations; The sustainable tourism and visitor learning outcomes that can be achieved through effective interpretation and mindful visitor experiences; The key benefits and challenges of mobile-driven technology and communication platforms that can impact the interpretive and learning experience of visitors within the context of nature-based rural tourism.
Urban / Rural Tourism Peripheral DestinationsUrbanisation has led to rural crisis and has been a major concern to various stakeholders who are seeking alternative modes of development for rural areas (Bramwell, 1994; Augustyn, 1998).Tourism development is pursued as a viable strategy for rural diversification and regenerating rural economies that is found in the periphery of urban destinations (Liu, 2006; Wilson, Fesenmaier, Fesenmaier, & Van Es, 2001). Rural tourism, is a form of tourism that is 1) located in rural areas, 2) is rural in scale, character and function, and 3) reflecting the differing and complex pattern of rural environment, economy, history and location (Lane, 1994)Growing popularity and attractiveness of rural tourism rests on the positive connotations of the rural idyll and the their distinctive cultural, historic, ethnic, and geographic characteristics (Cloke, Marsden & Mooney, 2006)
Sustainable Rural Tourism:Visitor Interpretation & MindfulnessFor the effective implementation of sustainable development in rural areas, there must be a proactive approach of integrating effective visitor management with conservation outcomes (Howie, 2013). Carefully developed interpretive programs can thus positively contribute to visitor management strategies by encouraging visitor mindfulness and the adoption of sustainable behavior (Hill, Woodland, & Gough, 2007; Lee, 2009)Interpretation should be designed as an interesting, entertaining, and educational activity aimed at communicating meaningful relationships, creating new knowledge, and forming sustainable behavior (Powell & Ham, 2008; Weaver, 2008)Moscardo (1996) proposed a mindfulness model of Interpretation (p. 382) in which the degree of mindfulness or mindlessness displayed by the visitor is determined by 1) the setting factors 2) the visitor factorsMindful visitors are seen to articulate higher levels of satisfaction, interest, sense of discovery and appreciation of the place (Moscardo, 1996)Mobile-driven Interpretation & Applications for Rural Tourism Despite the ubiquitous adoption of mobile-driven technology and applications, research into the role of such tools in interpretative programs and the implications for mediating the tourism experience is still at its infancy (Dickinson et al., 2014; Peres et al., 2011). When designing and implementing mobile-driven interpretation, content should be planned and developed as part of an integrated multi-channel service package (Koivumaki, 2002), incorporating the various interpretative programs Need to ensure a holistic and integrative approach to consider the totality of the tourism experience, from start to finish (pre trip, on site and post visit) Wang, Park, and Fesenmaier (2012), and Watson, Akselsen, Monod, and Pitt (2004)Mobile applications should be synergistically designed with existing tools and platforms that interact with each other in a digital ecosystem of mobile applications and services through accepted standards, fostering inter-operability and easy extension (Martin et al p. 1883).
MethodologyThe Study: Exploratory study; qualitative researchResearch Site: The Kranji Countryside, SingaporeStage 1: Preliminary literature / information search
Interviews with KCA & local stakeholdersStage 2: Development of mobile app prototypeStage 3: Visitor Interview (semi-structured interviews)
Data Collection: Case-study: The Kranji Countryside & Local Farming CommunityFace to Face Interviews: Kranji Countryside Association ManagementWeb content analysis: KCA Website, Local Tourism & Policy PapersSemi-structured Interviews: Visitors at the inaugural Kranji Countryside Farmers Market in June 2014
Findings & Discussions- Tourism in Singapore & the shift towards rural tourism - Tourism development in Singapore: Phenomenal growth in tourism due to pro tourism strategies by the NTO but the sustainability of the industys trajectory growth is questionable Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been dedicated towards navigating the country for the next phase of tourism growth through innovative product development and diversification strategiesTourism Compass 2020, an initiative that was designed to identify and capitalize on emerging opportunities afforded by new travel trendsUrban attractions have been more dominant in Singapores tourism marketing but there is a shift towards nature based attractions in its place making effortsDevelopment of rural countryside as tourism destination: The Urban Redevelopment Authoritys 2008 Draft Master Plan highlighted the need to create leisure destinations with unique offerings for Singaporeans and tourists with enhancements. The Kranji area, in the northern part of Singapore identified as a leisure destination as it offers the potential of becoming a unique countryside destination close to nature due to its tranquil retreats and rustic charms Government support for new recreational experiences including farm-stays, invigorating spa treatments, strolls through lush plantations and hands on farming activities in an attractive countryside setting (URA, 2008) Rural tourism development at Kranji Countryside: The development of rural tourism with its strong links to sustainability can be a savior of rural communities that are facing challenges of economic transitions in SingaporeA positive trend of visitors in Singapore escaping to the countryside or rural areas to experience authentic nature based life styles in contrast to the commodified urban settings,However currently, most of the activities to be enjoyed in the Kranji countryside are of a passive character and entail observing, learning and purchasing (Henderson, 2009).A proactive approach towards visitor management should be considered to facilitate an appreciation for nature-based and rural tourism and enhance the future appeal of the Kranji countryside
Findings & Discussions- iDiscover rural Singapore: Creating a mobile-driven interpretive experience - Mobile device usage and preferences: Majority of the respondents had used their smartphone / mobile devices to retrieve information about the Kranji Countryside and / or the Farmers MarketReal-time integration of mobile and information communications technologies could serve to enhance the overall tourist experience Mobile application(s) / device(s) had enhanced their overall visit experience
Comparative assessments of mobile applications vis--vis the other communications and informational platforms Visitors were questioned about their preferred choice for retrieving and receiving information when visiting nature-based or rural areasRespondents ranked their preferences as: 1) most preferred choice: mobile applications, 2) second most preferred choice: physical displays, 3) third most preferred choice: printed brochures, and 4) least preferred choice: tour guides.Mobile-driven applications can present positive opportunities to support existing interpretative mediums to provide a holistic and integrative visitor interpretive experience.Implementation of mobile application for Kranji Co