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Title: Entrepreneurial networks in backpacker businesses in Mexico and Malaysia
Author: Fricke , Jorn
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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Backpacker tourism, as a niche market of international tourism, is experiencing on-going signs of massification and commodification, and it is served by entrepreneurs with a variety of business motivations that range from lifestyle-orientation to profit-motivation. Since its beginnings in the 1970s, increasing numbers of former backpackers have turned from consumers to producers of tourist services and resettled into popular destinations - often into so-called 'backpacker enclaves'. In these enclaves, they open small accommodation facilities or other services, but little is known about the development of backpacker supply services. While network analysis has been applied in a variety of academic research areas, in the field of tourism studies, the study of networks has not been applied to backpacker tourism and its service providers. The subject of this research is therefore to shed light on the changing dynamics of social, communication and exchange networks between providers and consumers of services in the context of increasingly commoditised backpacker tourism. In two well-established urban and two rural backpacker destinations in Mexico and Malaysia, in-depth interviews were held with backpacker entrepreneurs. Both countries have a history of backpacker tourism since the 1960s and are located on regional backpacker trails. This research has shown that there the nature of backpacker tourism and its services is a reaction to the changing composition of the backpacker market and regulatory framework. Strategic skills in backpacker services that used to be acquired through strong social networks between hosts and guests have changed to exchange networks between growthoriented service providers and consumers. In Malaysia, as a result of weaker social and stronger exchange networks, the entrepreneurs' knowledge and innovation is now often acquired by means of copying other businesses approaches. In these highly commoditised and concentrated backpacker enclaves, the result is a strong division between producers and consumers, while in dispersed enclaves such as in the urban enclave of San Cristobal de las Casas, where backpackers spend extended amounts oftime and lifestyle, entrepreneurs-run businesses, social networks between producers and consumers of backpacker services continue to thrive. As a result, not only are social networks stronger,
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available