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Changed Stakeholder Importance due to the COVID-19 Pandemic? - Rural Tourism Case Studies from Central Europe

Abstract
Stakeholders are individuals or groups without whose support an organization would cease to exist. As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruption in many industries, the aim of our research is to investigate whether the pandemic is changing which stakeholders that are important for accommodation providers within rural tourism. Based on a qualitative, exploratory research approach, involving secondary data and semi-structured interviews with accommodation providers in two Central European regions, our research suggests that new customer segments and digital booking platform providers are gaining more importance due to conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also suggests that rural tourism accommodation providers intensify already established relationships with tourism support providers, e.g. nationwide or local referent organizations, rather than seek for new or additional ones. In other words, they don’t give importance to grow their stakeholder network during the pandemic when reaching for support, but instead give priority to the well-known.
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