Small business development and tourism: Terra incognita?
This paper argues that the relationship between tourism and small business remains terra incognita because much of the existing research is published in diverse sources and fails to explicitly contribute to methodological development in this area. The paper reviews the small business literature as it relates to tourism and highlights the need for a greater tourism focus than currently exists. The paper also reports the results from the first stage of a project assessing the role of tourism and business development in Northland, New Zealand which aims to establish the extent of indigenous participation in small business development. The study follows an established methodology developed through the annual tourism and small business development study undertaken in the United Kingdom (Thomas et al. 1997, The National Survey of Small Tourism and Hospitality Firms: Annual Report 1996-97. Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds). The use of the postal survey instrument is discussed together with the results of the survey of tourist-related businesses. A sample of 297 businesses in Northland is examined and their role in tourism is evaluated in relation to business development, finance, marketing, human resource issues and the importance of tourists in their annual business turnover. The role of Maori involvement in these businesses is examined and the implications for indigenous involvement in the development of tourism opportunities is discussed. The contribution to comparative research methodologies to tourism studies is also considered.