'Dependent on the relationship you maintain': An exploration into the intermediaries within homestay social networks in Bhutan

Phenden Gyamtsho, Cliff Lewis, Jen Bond

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Abstract

Community-based ecotourism is considered a sustainable and holistic approach to local development which brings together environmental sustainability and socio-cultural benefits to local people. As an ecotourism activity, homestays contribute to the local community economically, ecologically, culturally, and socially. These benefits have instigated the proliferation of the homestay model in developing countries. However, the success of homestay operations depends on their sustained ability to attract guests, which are impacted by the social networks of the homestay operator. Accordingly, this study examines the role social networks play in homestay operations, through a qualitative approach, drawing on 46 interviews. Specifically, focusing on Bhutan, this study identifies actors that play a role in attracting guests. The findings suggest that actors can have a direct or indirect impact on the ability to attract guests. Those exerting a direct impact are usually in a position to influence the guest’s decision, while actors who have an indirect impact contribute to the experience guests have and, therefore, their satisfaction. These actors also have influence over capacity-building activities and policy which in turn influences homestay operations and, ultimately the sustainability of the ecotourism enterprise.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ecotourism
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024

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