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Research and Graduate Studies
Center for Sustainable Tourism
Serving the Region, State, and Nation

Photos courtesy of NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development

Tourism and Entrepreneurship

Many rural economies have historical, cultural, natural, and recreational assets that can be used in developing their local tourism industry as part of an economic development strategy. In fact, the relationship between entrepreneurship and tourism can be an important indicator of a healthy rural economy. A clear understanding of which aspects a community's entrepreneurial ecosystem have the most influence on tourism development has not yet been determined. However, entrepreneurial success is not completely dependent upon the entrepreneur. Place and people-related factors help create supportive entrepreneurship. Identifying factors that shape a favorable tourism entrepreneurship ecosystem will make it easier to understand why some rural communities thrive while others struggle, and to identify the best practices and/or make models to pursue in planning entrepreneurial activity that will help facilitate a culture of innovation and creativity in these communities.


To support the efforts of the many small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures that are encompasses in rural tourism, the Center's Tourism and Entrepreneurship Program focuses on two streams of activity.


Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Testing and refinement of an instrument to capture community perceptions of their entrepreneurial ecosystem and comparison of these perceptions with data available at the local level.


What is an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem?

Case Studies (Coming Soon)


North Carolina Food and Tourism Entrepreneurs

A series of qualitative interviews with private sector and social entrepreneurs about their own characteristics and motivations, as well as the challenges and supporting elements within their ecosystem. Through the long-term production of these interviews, a databank of qualitative information about entrepreneurship will be amassed.


Entrepreneurship Profiles

(Coming Soon)