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Phygital rural cultural heritage: A digitalisation approach for destination recovery and resilience

Muangasame, K. and Tan, E.ORCID: 0000-0002-1396-762X (2022) Phygital rural cultural heritage: A digitalisation approach for destination recovery and resilience. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes .

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Purpose This study examines a phygital approach to rural cultural heritage tourism, adopted by a rural community in Sapphaya, Chai Nat Province, Thailand, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, it investigates the community's initiatives to amalgamate its physical and digital marketing communications to engage with consumers as a strategy for destination recovery and resilience. Design/methodology/approach This is a qualitative exploratory study involving three stages of action, applying two research approaches: (1) participatory action research (PAR) with Sapphaya's tourism stakeholders, and (2) social media research utilising netnographic analysis of Sapphaya's Tourism Social Enterprise social media pages. Findings The findings indicate that a phygital rural cultural heritage strategy can facilitate the interconnectivity between a destination's physical and digital dimensions of its cultural heritage tourism product, thereby enhancing its intrinsic value, meaning and experiential perceptions. Specifically, it recommends that a successful community-based phygitalisation strategy requires grassroots engagement across all stages of planning, development, implementation and management of the rural cultural heritage tourism product. Research limitations/implications There are limitations acknowledged in this research due to its focus on one rural destination site and community, as well as mobility and social-distancing challenges imposed by the pandemic. Nonetheless, there are opportunities for further research of the phygital rural cultural heritage tourism strategy and future empirical research to test the framework proposed. Practical implications The paper focuses on the cultural heritage tourism strategy adopted by a rural community across the physical-digital-phygital spectrum to augment its sustainable tourism development during a time of crisis. A framework for phygital rural cultural heritage as a strategy for destination resilience and recovery is also proposed. Originality/value This study is unique in that it adopts a local engagement approach to develop a cooperative community heritage management strategy, based upon local rural capacity building towards digitalisation and empowering innovative partnerships amongst its stakeholders.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited
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