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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

Print version ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.5 n.spe9 Texcoco Sep./Nov. 2014 


Interest in the development of integrated rural tourism activities in three communities of Sonora

Luis Fernando Figueroa González1  § 

Judith Cavazos Arroyo2 

Yesica Mayett Moreno3 

1 Universidad de Sonora. Avenida Villahermosa 1168 Fracc. Nueva España, Hermosillo, Sonora, C. P. 83170, México. (

2 Universidad Popular Autónoma del estado de Puebla, 17 Sur 901 colonia Santiago, Puebla, Puebla, C. P. 72410, México. (

3 Universidad Popular Autónoma del estado de Puebla, 2a. Cda. Fuente de Trevi Sur No. 6, Fracc. San Carlos. Puebla, Puebla, C. P. 72130, México. (;


Misuse of the commercialization of natural resources and tourism products undermines the credibility and authenticity of some proposals of rural tourist destinations. A recent approach known as integrated rural tourism (IRT) proposes the integration among the various ores act involved in this activity highlighting sustainability as a competitive advantage and the inclusion of local and regional economies. This research analysed the interest in getting involved in IRT activities by three actors in the social chain: people of the communities of Ures, Baviácora and Aconchi, potential tourists and tourism providers in Hermosillo, Sonora. A quantitative, descriptive, explanatory and multi-cross divided research was developed into three stages. The results highlight the willingness of community residents to take advantage of the resources of IRT and interest in the development of tourism activities in each destination. Most of the tourist service providers would be willing to invest jointly with members of the community, valuing projects that link the cultural heritage of natural resources. Meanwhile, potential tourists value resting, natural resources and rural experiences. The integration requires a reeducation of the actors in this social chain, regarding their perception of leisure and enjoyment of cultural and natural attractions.

Keywords: inclusion; Mexico; social integration; sustainability


El abuso de la comercialización de los recursos naturales y los productos turísticos menoscaba la credibilidad y la autenticidad de algunas propuestas de destinos turísticos rurales. Un planteamiento reciente conocido como turismo rural integrado (TRI), propone la integración entre los diversos actores que intervienen en esta actividad destacando la sustentabilidad como ventaja competitiva así como la inclusión de las economías locales y regionales. La presente investigación analizó el interés en involucrarse en actividades de TRI por parte de tres actores de la cadena social: habitantes de las comunidades de Ures, Baviácora y Aconchi, turistas potenciales y proveedores de servicios turísticos de Hermosillo, Sonora. Se desarrolló una investigación cuantitativa, descriptiva, explicativa y transversal múltiple dividida en tres etapas. Los resultados destacan la disposición de los habitantes de las comunidades para aprovechar los recursos de TRI y en interés en el desarrollo de actividades turísticas en cada uno de los destinos. La mayor parte de los proveedores de servicios turísticos estarían dispuestos a invertir conjuntamente con miembros de la comunidad, valorando aquellos proyectos que vinculan el patrimonio cultural con los recursos naturales. Por su parte, los turistas potenciales valoran el descanso, los recursos naturales y las experiencias rurales. La integración requiere de una reeducación de los actores de esta cadena social respecto a su percepción del ocio y el disfrute de atractivos culturales y naturales.

Palabras clave: inclusión; integración social; México; sustentabilidad


Rural tourism is defined as an alternative form of travel that takes people to various sites with the idea of visiting the countryside, leisure activities and sports in contact with nature. It is offered in different variants such as ecotourism, agro-tourism, nature tourism and adventure tourism, and involves activities such as hunting, fishing, cultural and historical visits, among others (Millán et al., 2006; Solsona, 2006). Its development and adoption is quite complex, since in some regions coexists with a low quality of life and shortcomings in many rural areas (Echeverría, 2010). Despite this, researchers (Millán et al., 2006) believe that it can become an instrument for transforming rural economies by the multiplier effect practicing in employment and welfare of a community.

Several rural touristic projects fragmented the system itself (Sharpley, 2007), affecting the ecosystem, overusing marketing of natural resources and touristic products, which directly undermines the credibility and authenticity of the destination (Tan et al., 2013). In response to this, a recent approach proposes an integration between the various actors involved in the development of this activity generating a social chain between visitors and suppliers of products and rural services (Saxena and Ilbery, 2007).

This approach is known as IRT, emphasizing sustainability as a competitive advantage of rural tourism by exploiting the characteristics of the physical, social and cultural environment characteristics, thereby satisfying niche specific market (Cawley and Gillmor, 2007). The IRT includes all the social chain implemented, roles and harmonized with the implementation of strategies, monitoring and resource management responsibilities in rural tourism (Saxena et al., 2007).

Saxena et al. (2007) propose nine forms of integration IRT whose characteristics involve: 1) spatial: focuses on the inclusion of the less developed tourist areas, recognizing the importance of human cultural context and local networks; 2) HR: consider reducing social exclusion through local hiring to gain a competitive advantage; 3) Institutional: proposes the integration of agencies in partnerships or other structured form of permanent or temporary relationship that empower individuals and groups through initiatives that encourage and support self-sufficiency and the capacity of rural communities to participate in concerted actions; 4) Innovative: supports the generation of new ideas in the process of tourism products to achieve growth and competitive advantage. From an endogenous approach, economic, environmental and cultural resources would be exploited by innovative entrepreneurs to first meet local needs and strengthen the identity of the region.

Paradigms as frugal innovation and social innovation (Radjou et al., 2012) belong in the IRT; 5) economic: along with tourism are taken into account in other sectors such as retail and agriculture; 6) social: recognizes the importance of integration with other socio-economic trends, quality and concerns for the environment protection and sustainable development. The IRT constructed through social exchange networks are introduced and empowered in the context because they are part of the community; 7) Temporary: considering the past in the economic, social power, and cultural needs through marketing assets; 8) Community: promotes value creation by integrating tourists with community members sharing physical spaces and satisfying; and 9) integration policies: should be designed to facilitate the inclusion of tourism programs for national and regional growth, diversification and development.

The IRT incorporates components of sustainable tourism, but emphasizes seven key aspects (Barcus, 2013): 1) the importance of networks and links are vertical or horizontal; 2) scale in size, volume and scope of tourism resources and their economic, social and cultural impact on small scale or niche markets based on large-scale local structures; 3) the effort to generate own development or inward by the community itself; 4) sustainability; 5) The roots linked to relationships and networks and unique socio-cultural identities; 6) the complementarity of other activities that generate greater synergy and partnership; and 7) empowerment through local control over resources and activities.

The IRT reflects that, the relationship between social networks represent a mechanism to promote rural tourism and establish strong relationships between touristic businesses and destinations (Polo and Frías, 2010). No matter by whom or how, a tourism plan thus conceived reach success with systematic inclusion of stakeholders through the construction of horizontal social networks in communities where it takes place (Petersen, 2010). Then emerge the interest of actors and actresses explicitly linked through rural tourism, safeguarding economic, social, cultural, natural and human resources of the communities where it takes place (Saxena et al., 2007).

Study region. In the state of Sonora, Mexico; for developing a tourist route called "Rio Sonora" designed for tourism as an opportunity to exploit the natural and historic potential nine populations in the banks of the Rio Sonora (Sonora Tourism, 2014) was initiated. This route is considered as a potential tourist itinerary to attract inhabitants of the city of Hermosillo, mainly due to the diversity of ecosystems travel and cultural characteristics (Salido et al., 2009), so that sustainable tourism can be an opportunity for regional development with proper management of their natural and cultural resources (Petersen, 2010).

Although, there is no precise information on the performance of tourism in this region, it has the necessary factors to establish itself as a tourist route, they could allow the momentum of projects related to rural communities, its historical past and culture, between other forms of tourism that globally show large dynamism (Salido et al., 2009). Therefore, the objective of this research is to analyse the interest of three actors from the social chain (community members, potential tourists and touristic service providers) to engage in activities of the integrated tourism in rural communities Ures, Baviácora and Aconchi, in the State of Sonora, Mexico.

Materials and methods

Method. A quantitative, descriptive, explanatory and multiple-cross divided research (Hernández et al., 2010) was developed; conducted from February to September 2013 and divided into three stages.

Stage 1. in this first study the universe was formed by economically active persons, regardless of gender and dwell in the municipalities of Ures, Baviácora and Aconchi (N= 5 520). Using a non -probability sampling procedures applied: 136 personal surveys in Ures, 47 and 46 in Aconchi Baviácora. Sampling selected participants according to pre-specified for one or more criteria established by the investigator assessments (Hair et al., 2010). The odds were specified according to the size of each sample populations and each subgroup was assigned in proportion to their size. In order to collect the personal information, we used a survey.

Step 2. surveys were applied to the inhabitants of Hermosillo, Sonora considering economically active men and women (N= 327 040) . A non- probability convenience sampling, a method in which the selection of study subjects are given in terms of accessibility and proximity of subjects for research was developed (Hair et al., 2010). 209 surveys in a mall in the city. 49.4% of respondents were male, 63.7% were between 18 and 35 years and the majority of employees interviewed (56.1%), students inserted in occupations (22.8%) and self-employed as merchants or offer personal service declared (14.3%). In addition, 60.4% of respondents said earning between $6 000 and $12 000.

Stage 3. a list of organizations providing touristic services located in Hermosillo was obtained, reaching a total of 42 organizations in the telephone directory of the city. Via telephone appointment, arranged with each, but only 19 of them (45.2%) agreed to answer the survey.


Hi: the inhabitants of the communities of Ures, Baviácora and Aconchi, potential tourists and tourism providers from Hermosillo, Sonora are interested in visiting their communities, differ in their perceptions of the attractiveness of these, in tourism projects to be developed but appreciate the natural and cultural environment of the communities.

H1. The inhabitants of the communities are interested in tourists visiting their communities.

H2. The people of the three communities differ from their perceptions of the resources for which it is considered that tourists would visit their communities.

H3. The people of the three communities differ from their perceptions of the potential sustainable tourism projects to be developed in their respective communities.

H4. More than half of the potential tourists of Hermosillo are grouped in a profile that values the natural and cultural environment of the studied rural communities.

H5. Suppliers of touristic services from Hermosillo who are willing to invest in sustainable tourism projects in the communities surveyed perceive that the greatest potential of communities lies in natural resources.

Results and discussion

Community members. The results show that must of the respondents in all three populations are between 36 and 50 years old, have completed elementary or secondary school, a high percentage are employed and housewives, married and have children between 2 and 4 years old; household income generally range between $1 000 and $3 000 monthly.

Interviewees said to be interested in the development of rural tourism in their populations and to compare the perceptions of the reasons why it considers that tourists would visit the community (on an ordinal 7-point scale), the results of the analysis Kruskal Wallis reflected no significant differences in relation to: natural resources, family visits, rest, cleanliness, natural attractions, hospitality, family atmosphere, security, local infrastructure and facilities to provide tourism services. However, significant differences were found in relation to historic heritage (p= 0.013, MdUres= 5 MdBaviácora= 5, MdAconchi= 4), productos típicos (p= 0.000, MdUres= 6, MdBaviácora= 5, MdAconchi= 5), gastronomía (p= 0.048, MdUres=6, MdBaviácora= 5, MdAconchi= 5), paisaje ( p= 0.029, MdUres= 5, MdBaviácora= 5, MdAconchi= 6).

Arguably, in the town of Ures, we think that tourists would visit his community is mainly for its typical products and cuisine, however the inhabitants of Aconchi highlight the landscape, while the inhabitants of Baviácora believe that visitors will appreciate a wider variety of issues such as cultural heritage, local products, food and scenery. It is precisely a feature of IRT recognition and use of each own diverse physical, social and cultural environment characteristics (rather than pretending homogenization of tourist destinations), thereby satisfying different market niches.

Regarding the perception that people have towards the resources with the greatest potential to be developed into sustainable tourism projects in their communities, the Kruskal-Wallis analysis did not show significant differences among the three populations in relation to places for rest and reflection, purity of environment, hotels and cottages and natural resources. However, we found significant statistic differences regarding the development opportunities of sustainable projects focused on the offer of: historic patrimony (p= 0.006, MdUres= 4, MdBaviácora= 3, MdAconchi= 4), local products (p= 0.002, MdUres= 4, MdBaviácora= 4, MdAconchi= 4), gastronomy (p= 0.013, MdUres= 5, MdBaviácora= 4, MdAconchi= 4), leasurement (p = 0.003, MdUres= 3, MdBaviácora= 3, MdAconchi= 4) and vast natural beauty (p= 0.017, MdUres= 4, MdBaviácora= 4, MdAconchi= 4.5).

Arguably, Ures respondents perceive more opportunities to develop sustainable tourism in its rich cuisine related to their community. Instead, respondents highlighted Baviácora possibilities around its diversity of natural attractions and its typical products and cuisine. Finally, the perception of the citizens Aconchi reflects the perception that it is feasible to sustainably exploit all the richness of its cultural, historic and natural resources, but include a few more possibilities for the diversity of its natural attractions.

The results of the inhabitants of the communities confirm hypothesis 1 under that tourists are interested in visiting their communities and hypothesis 2 which states that the inhabitants of the three communities differ from their perceptions of resources is confirmed by that considered that tourists would visit their communities and hypothesis 3 since the inhabitants of the three communities differ from their perceptions of the potential sustainable tourism projects to be developed in their respective communities. Members of Ures and more focused Baviácora perceptions manifest reasons and resources to the development of sustainable rural tourism projects, however perceptions Aconchi community are more varied. The rich resources of each of these communities depends on several aspects; however, it is necessary to precise that of the three, Ures is the most populated community (9 185) and closer to the capital of the state of Sonora (83.3 km), followed by Baviácora (3 560 inhabitants and 131 km) and finally Aconchi (2637 inhabitants) located 146 kilometres from the capital, in this sense the movement of potential tourists may be affected not only by resources but also by location and community size.

Potential tourists. In order to identify the characteristics of potential tourists that would be interested in visiting the three communities studied by cluster analysis of categorical variables with two-stage nature of nominal and ordinal (Malhotra, 2008) was used. Two groups of potential tourists were identified. Of the total sample, 81.5% were located in the "cluster 1" and 18.5% was grouped in the "cluster 2" (size ratio of the largest to the smallest cluster= 4.40). Table 1 presents the importance of the predictors for each cluster.

Table 1 Profile of potential tourists per cluster. 

Variable Importancia de la variable en la clasificación Turistas rurales (81.5%) Categoría más frecuente Turistas urbanos (18.5%) Categoría más frecuente (%)
Muy relevante
Disfrutar el paisaje 1 Muy importante 34.7% Poco importante 67.5%
Disfrutar de experiencias rurales 0.8 Muy importante 32.4% Menos importante 55.0%
Costos de traslado y estancia 0.71 Neutral 33.0% Extremadamente importante 67.5%
Infraestructura local 0.69 Algo importante 28.4% Extremadamente importante 57.5%
Descanso en el lugar de destino 0.67 Extremadamente importante 38.6% Algo importante 52.5%
Experimentar una atmósfera familiar 0.51 Muy importante 40.9% Poco importante 45%
Experimentar actividades rurales de ecoturismo 0.5 Algo importante 27.3% Poco importante 72.5%
Adquirir productos típicos 0.49 Algo importante 27.8% Menos importante 52.5%
Gastronomía diferente 0.49 Algo importante 32.4% Poco importante 65%
Salir del tráfico y ruido de la ciudad 0.44 Muy importante 33.0% Poco importante 47.5%
Accesibilidad de caminos 0.42 Neutral 33.5% Muy importante 57.5%
Poco relevante
Viaje en familia 0.28 Muy importante 34.7% Muy importante 97.5%
Obtener conocimiento cultural 0.25 Muy importante 34.1% Poco importante 52.5%
Escolaridad 0.25 Licenciatura o ingeniería sin terminar 48.3% Licenciatura o ingeniería terminada 90%
Edad 0.21 18-25 años 38.6% 26-35 años 65%
Ingreso mensual 0.21 $6 001-$9 000 46.6% Más de $15 000 40%
Sexo 0.11 Femenino 56.2% Masculino 75%
Instalaciones deportivas y recreativas 0.11 Algo importante 11% Algo importante 11%
Ocupación 0.09 Empleado 54% Empleado 85%

Cluster 1. This segment is relevant for their size and the object of study of this research. It is made ​up of people who prefer nature-related tourism, value out of the city to enjoy the scenery, rural experiences and get rest in the destination. Do not give too much importance to travel costs and subsistence while appreciating that there is sufficient local infrastructure for your convenience.

Complementary to the central benefits, accessibility is assessed to reach the place and a family atmosphere in the place of destination, make ecotourism activities, buy local products and try a different cuisine. Psychographic variables are most relevant that demographic in understanding the profile of this market, but as identification of these variables can be said that the segment consists mainly of employed women, between 18 and 25 years old, with truncated and revenue run between $6 001 and $9 000 pesos (Table 1). By virtue of these features that distinguish the members of this group has been given the name of rural tourists. With this, hypothesis 4 is confirmed as the results indicate a significant group (81.5%) of people interested in making sustainable rural tourism in the three communities studied that would value landscapes and rural experiences offered by them.

Cluster 2. This group forms a niche (18.5%) that values travel costs and accommodation, local infrastructure and accessibility of routes to the destination. This market does not delight in the experiences of rural environments (Table 1). They are people who appreciate the comforts of a city when in tourism; so this conglomerate has been called urban tourists.

Suppliers of tourism services. The owners of the companies mentioned in their entirety and be private according to the number of workers (1, 10) they are classified within the microenterprise. Of these, 68% are travel agencies, 21% are engaged in tourist transportation and 11% at the organization's convention and visitors as well as a tour guide. It was found that 60% were willing to invest intourism projects in the communities studied, preferred

Ures, followed by Aconchi and thirdly Baviácora. In addition 55% of providers said they would hold a joint venture with community members in projects of sustainable rural tourism.

In order to identify factors related to sustainable potential tourism of the communities studied perceived from the perspective of tourism providers, exploratory factor analysis(EFA) was developed. The results showed a cluster of three factors (KMO= 0.556, χ2= 0.000), a measure of adequacy KMO larger than 0.70 is suitable for conducting an AFE, although a KMO of 0.5 is acceptable, with lower values ​than this value is not advisable to perform the analysis also Bartlett sphericity should be significant, less than 0.05 (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2007; Williams et al., 2010).

The total cumulative variance explained was 69.569% among the three factors extracted; this extraction meets the requirements of the technique (Malhotra, 2008). The rotated factor contains the coefficients expressing the standardized variables in terms of the resultant three factors (Table 2).

Table 2 Rotated matrix attributes perceived by tourism providers. 

1 2 3
Promoción de nuevos productos rurales 0.196 -0.614 0.436
Arquitectura y edificios 0.785 0.183 -0.099
Sitios históricos 0.928 -0.080 -0.001
Ríos, arroyos, lagunas 0.638 0.097 0.267
Tiendas de productos locales -0.015 0.227 0.896
Hospitalidad de la comunidad 0.445 0.479 0.138
Fama de la comunidad (tradiciones, fiestas religiosas, gastronomía, entre otros) 0.731 0.221 0.006
Instalaciones de alojamiento 0.075 -0.161 0.834
Protección de los recursos naturales 0.695 0.543 0.206
Hidrología 0.749 0.465 0.093
Costumbres y tradiciones locales 0.544 0.504 0
Valores sociales de la comunidad 0.399 0.675 -0.089
Enfoque de identidad 0.223 0.847 0.259
Los recursos de la comunidad 0.188 0.926 -0.066

Método de extracción: análisis de componentes principales. Método de rotación: normalización Varimax con Kaiser. a. La rotación ha convergido en 6 iteraciones. 1= patrimonio cultural y recursos naturales; 2= identidad social y recursos de la comunidad; 3= infraestructura.

Factor 1 (42.816% of the explained variance) was composed of: Historic sites (0.928), architecture and buildings (0.785), hydrology (0.749), fame of the community (0.731), protection of natural resources (0.695), rivers, streams and lakes (0.638) and local customs and traditions (0.544) . Due to the variables that were included in this factor, the name given to this dimension is "cultural heritage and natural resources”. Factor 2 (15.032% of the explained variance) was composed by the resources of the community (0.926), approach identity (0.847), social values (0​.675), promotion of new products (0.614), and entertainment community (0.479). This factor has been called "social identity and community resources". Finally, factor 3 (11.720% of the explained variance) was composed by shops selling local products (0.896) facilities and housing (0.834). This factor has been called "infrastructure". Thus, hypothesis 5 is confirmed as the tourism service providers perceive that the largest potential for communities to develop sustainable tourism projects are the natural resources but are also expected to bid projects also heavily exploit the richness of the Cultural Heritage of these populations.

These aspects favour the onset of sustainable tourism projects that will achieve a progressive development for the communities where they implement, as a community could hardly undertake the development of a tourist activity alone. In this study the interest of individuals and organizations to engage with the community to develop projects appeared, this would mark the beginning of a IRT which one of its features are the relationships between social chains to boost rural tourism establishing a close relationship between the people interested and the community (Saxena et al., 2007; Polo and Frías, 2010).

Case studies of IRT have used various methods to identify the potential of the project, the development of the proposal and evaluation of the results of this activity in the actors and the context of application (Saxena and Ilbery, 2007; Barcus, 2013). This research has been considered as a first step of the interest that the chain actors shown to be involved in the activities of rural tourism, and the willingness to engage in rural tourism projects claiming and consciously take more proactive roles and responsibilities in the actors and actresses involved (Saxena et al., 2007). This networks in order to integrate economic, sociocultural and ecological character under the benefit, use and enjoyment of the resources and activities of the rural tourist destination.

Empirical experiences Barcus (2013) in the context of Bayfield, Wisconsin in the United States show that while it may converge rural networks in implementing a project, endogenously not necessarily the empowerment of all the people interested, achieved and requires strong participation and inclusion work for the creation of a truly sustainable and integrated rural tourism equitable development. Applying Cawley and Gillmor (2007) in Ireland demonstrated the need for a clear definition of sustainability ethic by those involved in local tourism, since the interests catering to different priorities among them in the development of local strategy.

Furthermore, when different tourism actors (e.g. tourists, service providers, community members) must interact to create sustainable opportunities, challenges generally prevail for the project develops as tensions associated with the interests of the members involved, the characteristics of the pillars of sustainability and aspirations of the groups along with the limitations imposed by nature itself (Kuhlman and Farrington, 2010). Is expected to achieve a sustainable community settings activities and human interactions in a fair, inclusive and sustainable long-term impact on the quality of life of people (Bramley et al., 2009; Dempsey et al., 2011; Weingaertner and Moberg, 2011) and management during implementation and verify that the results do not generate an abuse of exploitation of natural resources, and foster a "break" of the community (Cuthill, 2010), but richer and cohesion social structures during the exchange between society and nature in the present and for future generations, which for some is an ideal of sustainability (Littig and Griessler, 2005), including the Sonora River project.


Tourism development requires a coordinated effort of individuals and organizations involved in accordance with the farm chores and caring for the environment. Tourism in rural areas is a valuable tool that could help developing communities. IRT model emerges as a conciliator whose largest challenge is to converge in an equitable manner, the interests of the people, so that they can achieve their particular and communal goals.

In this study, the results showed that there is investment interest in this geographical area by tourism providers together with members of the communities in a sustainable manner. There is a rural tourism especially natural, cultural and heritage resources, for which a defined niche market was identified, reflecting several reasons for rural tourism in the communities.

Future studies may be aimed at developing a model of IRT on features and ways of integrating the proposed monitoring and evaluation of results.

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Received: March 2014; Accepted: September 2014

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