Tourism entrepreneurship in low to middle income countries

  • Tourism entrepreneurship in low to middle income countries

    This broad-based research theme builds on the Oxford School of Hospitality Management’s (OSHM) history of exploring social enterprise, and other entrepreneurial activity which interfaces with tourism, across the world.

    Whilst there is evidence pointing to the potential of entrepreneurial activity to lead to poverty alleviation, the research base remains limited in countries outside of the African context, which remains the central point of reference for poverty alleviation research in tourism. CITEM is committed to addressing such research gaps, and so has developed a programme of research in South Asia, commencing with Nepal. Our initial focus on Nepal is based on the lack of research articulating the entrepreneurship landscape in the country; the current research base focuses on the more prosperous Hill (Kathmandu Valley) and Mountain (Himalaya) regions. Indeed, OSHM, through its involvement with the Tourism Innovation Partnership for Social Entrepreneurship (TIPSE) has highlighted examples of successful tourism social enterprise in the Solu Khumbu region. However, the Terai (plains) region of Southern Nepal is vastly under-researched and under-funded – and yet it hosts the majority the population.

    Using the Terai as a platform to construct a research base, CITEM is interested in the potential for social entrepreneurship to deliver socio-economic change in the lives of women. This is clearly a complex area of research with a number of factors presenting barriers to women’s entrepreneurship in the region, not least the role of men, with whom it is critical that this project engages. The aim here will be to share our learning around how women’s social wellbeing and economic independence brings benefits to the wider community – male and female – and how social enterprise can best facilitate this.

    In undertaking this project, the Centre is seeking to address acknowledged research gaps across disciplines in this area, which speaks to the core ethos of CITEM’s mission. Whilst the current emphasis is on Nepal, there are ambitions to extend this research through British Council networks across South Asia into Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Indonesia.


    Building on our research investigating ethnic and women’s entrepreneurship, CITEM has been awarded £10,000 of funding from the British Council Nepal to conduct an exploratory study in the Terai region. The focus is an investigation of the barriers and enablers of women’s entrepreneurship.

    This research has revealed that women’s participation in entrepreneurship is primarily via the design and production of traditional arts and crafts. This process is typically facilitated by arts social enterprise organisations, who provide retail outlets to tourists, as well as opportunities for export and exhibition. Through its observation of social enterprise in Kathmandu and the Terai, combined with semi-structured interviews of women arts entrepreneurs, this project has enriched our understanding of the struggles faced by women artisans, as well as measures which could significantly improve their socio-economic wellbeing. CITEM now intends to use these research findings to inform a large scale study in partnership with the British Council, Kathmandu University and the University of the Arts London.

  • Get involved

  • The centre is firmly international in scope, working to build a portfolio of research and consultancy projects in the field of tourism, hospitality and events – and offers the opportunity for researchers to address key research gaps across this broad sector. We are particularly interested in cross-disciplinary studies and will be aiming to take advantage of the numerous points of intersection between tourism and other fields, including health and social care, natural science, computer science and technology. Please contact us to discuss any areas of potential collaboration or research.

    The centre aims to assist doctoral students in the early stages of their careers in tourism research. This support could take the form of advice on publication, pilot studies or facilitating access to specialist events and further funding. By capitalising on our expertise in securing funding and building partnerships on an international scale, we enable students to engage in activity which complements or extends the scope of their doctoral study. The assistance we offer ranges from helping students with small grant proposals to fund data collection, travel or pilot studies, to more involved support with post-doctoral fellowship applications. Ultimately, we want to develop the next generation of tourism researchers and create a supportive, collaborative environment in which high quality research can flourish.

    We are pleased to be offering PhD studentships. Contact us for more information.

    Does your doctoral thesis interface with tourism, hospitality or events management? If so we would be pleased to hear from you to discuss how the Centre may be able to support you in your research activity. Contact us for more information.

  • Contact us
    Oxford Brookes Business School
    Wheatley Campus
    Oxford OX33 1 HX
    Tel: +44 (0)1865 485858