Exploring the poverty reduction potential of social marketing in tourism development
Truong, Van Dao
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Although social marketing has been demonstrated to be an effective tool of behavior change in a variety of contexts, its poverty reduction potential in tourism development has captured limited research attention. This paper explores the potential contribution of social marketing to tourism-related poverty alleviation in Sapa, Vietnam. It does so by creating an understanding of how local residents perceive poverty, then exploring whether social marketing could be a potential solution in the case of Sapa. Through participant observations and semi-structured interviews, this study reveals that local people perceive poverty as a lack of rice and/or income and ascribe it to both internal and external factors. Local women often follow tourists to sell handicrafts, causing discomfort for tourists and driving them away from certain destinations. Insufficient capital and farming land are also identified as a critical barrier to poverty reduction. This study argues that by understanding the poor people's perspectives on poverty, we can identify meaningful approaches to poverty alleviation. Thereby, social marketing can be one of the tools to bring the marginalized voice of poor people to the attention of decision-makers.