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Empowerment’s Influence on Resident Support for Tourism in rural Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)

Rural sustainable tourism within CEE has been a promising diversification strategy and a relatively easily accessible means for rural households to achieve independence from the agriculture. Despite empowerment being a crucial component of this type of tourism few scholars have looked at how empowerment applies to rural societies within the post-communist EU member states. There has been some evidence of empowerment in the tourism context in those countries through exploratory studies, but they expose only some issues related to the implementation of participatory mechanisms in tourism decision-making and they are qualitative in nature. To further discuss the applicability of empowerment within CEE socio-political conditions, more research is needed to examine how residents perceive empowerment and how these perceptions relate to other core tourism constructs such as support for tourism. With this gap in mind, the first goal of this study is to test the cross-cultural validity of the Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale (RETS) within the CEE country of Poland. The second goal is to evaluate how empowerment predicts residents’ support for tourism within a CEE context. Using a theoretical perspective that blends Social Exchange Theory with Weber’s Theory of Formal and Substantive Rationality, these non-economic empowerment dimensions will be coupled with a measure of resident perceptions of economically benefiting from tourism to see if Polish residents are more influenced by the economic benefits of tourism or the non-economic constructs of empowerment.