The economy of Turkmenistan has been heavily reliant on the oil and gas sector. Ghosh (2020) explains that the government developed a comprehensive plan to diversify the economy as a way of enhancing sustainability. There has been a growing concern about the impact of petroleum products on the environment. As a result of these concerns, the global community has been making a slow but consistent shift towards the use of green energy sources as a way of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. The government realized that the best way of ensuring that its economy remains relevant is to promote other sectors of the economy. Tourism and hospitality has received great attention because of their potential. Through public-private partnership initiatives, the government has managed to improve the growth of this sector over the past three decades (Sood, 2017). The primary aim of this research is to investigate in the sustainability of Turkmenistan’s tourism and hospitality industries.
Tourism and hospitality industries offer a perfect opportunity for the government to diversify the country’s economy. According to Kozak (2019), Europe has become one of the preferred destination for medical tourism because of the healthcare infrastructure that the government and private sector players have put in place. The country has also been attracting visitors interested in touring various natural sites such as the Darvaza gas crater (Diekmann and McCabe, 2020). Despite these initiatives and the effort by different stakeholders, issues about sustainability still continue to arise. The government and private sector players are concerned about the ability of the sector to continue attracting both regional and international visitors. These stakeholders are keen on finding ways of addressing these concerns and ensuring that the tourism and hospitality sectors are sustainable.
It is necessary to define research objectives to determine the type of data needed to achieve the primary goal of the study. The main research objective is to investigate the potential of implementing sustainable practices in the hospitality and tourism industries. The following are the specific objectives that this study seeks to achieve:
- To assess the current practices in the tourism and hospitality industries in Turkmenistan;
- To identify impediments to effective implementation of sustainable practices in the hospitality industry in Turkmenistan;
- To develop strategies of achieving sustainable practices in the tourism and hospitality industries in Turkmenistan.
In this study, it will be necessary to collect data to help achieve the aim and objectives of the research. As such, it is necessary to develop research questions that will facilitate the collection of data from a wide variety of sources. The following was the main research question
- What are the impediments of implementing sustainable practices in the tourism and hospitality industries in Turkmenistan?
The researcher considered it appropriate to develop research sub-questions to help achieve the objectives stated above. The following questions will help in collecting data from both primary and secondary sources:
- Are the stakeholders willing to implement sustainable practices?
- Are there any implementations of sustainable practices in Turkmenistan?
Significance of the Research
Turkmenistan’s economy has been significantly affected by the fluctuating international oil prices over the past decade. According to Leal-Millan, Peris-Ortiz and Leal-Rodríguez (2018), the increasing production and exportation of this product by Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States and many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa has affected the prices. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it worsened the already bad situation. Exportation dropped significantly as many firms were forced to stop operating because of the fear of the spread of the virus. The pandemic demonstrated the vulnerability of the country’s economy, especially its overreliance on only one sector. Tourism and hospitality industry offers a perfect opportunity to diversify and strengthen the economy. However, issues about sustainable practices still arise. The government and private sector players must ensure that sustainability is achieved in this sector. This research is important because it focuses on finding ways of achieving the sustainability in these two sectors. The stakeholders in this industry can use the information in this report to define policies and practices that can enhance sustainable growth.
Relevant Background Literature
Sustainability in the tourism and hospitality industries is an issue that has attracted the attention of many scholars over the past several decades. Tourism and hospitality are some of the oldest yet profitable industry around the world. However, practices in this industry have been changing because of changes in technology and lifestyle. It was important to conduct a preliminary investigation of findings that other scholars have made in this field.
Achieving Sustainability in Tourism and Hospitality Industry
Tourism and hospitality sectors are closely intertwined because of how they rely on each other. The two sectors have gone through a major transformation and stakeholders are always under pressure to adjust their operations accordingly. Traditionally, tourists relied on tour agencies to make their bookings whenever they wanted to travel. They had to visit their offices physically to make such bookings. However, the trend has changed because of the emergence of new technological applications. Tourists only need to visit online pages, compare services and prices offered by different companies, then select the most desirable provider based on their needs and budget (Marinov et al., 2018). Stakeholders in this industry have had to adjust to these changes to ensure that they offer quality services to their customers.
Achieving sustainability in this industry require stakeholders to understand and effectively respond to the changing needs of their customers. As Kozak (2019) observes, each country around the world is always keen on promoting tourism, especially to attract foreign visitors. As such, these international travelers will only visit countries that they believe will offer them the best services. Local stakeholders in this industry have the responsibility of improving their service delivery as much as possible to ensure that they meet these emerging expectations (Prud’homme and Raymond, 2016). For instance, technology has become a major factor when booking for these services. These stakeholders must ensure that they put in place structures and systems that can allow these visitors to make online transactions.
Sustainable practices should also take into consideration environmental concerns. According to Abdou, Hassan and El-Dief (2020), there has been a growing concern about the increasing emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and release of industrial effluent into the environment. Although this industry is considered to have a relatively low negative impact on the environment compared to those in the manufacturing sectors, there is still need to embrace sustainable practices. Issues such as recycling and use of renewable energy are gaining popularity.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this exploratory study is to investigate sustainable practices in the hospitality and tourism industry in Turkmenistan. The country has been keen on diversifying its economy and these two sectors offers attractive growth opportunities. The study will explore possible causes of the current challenges that stakeholders in this industry faces, and strategies that can be implemented to achieve the desired sustainability. The review of literature will help in determining how the problem has been addressed in other parts of the world. Stakeholders in this industry can embrace these best practices to address challenges that they face locally.
Research Methodology and Methods
When developing a research proposal, it is important to define the methodology and methods that one intends to use. This section provides a detailed description of the steps that will be taken to collect, process, and present data from various sources. The section makes it possible for one to understand the viability and reliability of the study based on the described methods of data collection and analysis. The section explains the methodology, methods, ethical consideration, and timetable for the research, anticipated problems and limitations.
It is important to define the methodology that will be used in this study. The methodology defines the philosophy that a researcher embraces, the approach that is taken in developing the knowledge, the research strategy, and choices. Figure 1 below is a research onion that identifies these methodology factors that a researcher has to define before starting the process of data collection.
Research philosophy defines the main assumptions that a researcher makes when collecting and processing data from various sources. One can embrace positivism, realism, interpretivism, or pragmatism depending on the research aim and objectives that have to be achieved. In this study, pragmatism was chosen as the most appropriate research design for the study. As Chakraborty and Ledwani (2016) explain, pragmatists hold the view that “there are different ways of interpreting the world and undertaking research, and that no single point of view can ever give an entire picture and that there may be multiple realities.” The philosophy allows a researcher to use different strategies to achieve a specific goal in the study. It was considered appropriate because it supports both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The figure above shows that one can use deductive or inductive reasoning when conducting a research. The choice of the approach depends on the aim of the study and the selected philosophy. In this study, the researcher will use inductive reasoning approach to develop the new knowledge. It involves making observation and then moving towards generalized ideas. As shown in figure 2 below, this approach starts by tests or making observation of a phenomenon. One then develops a pattern, before developing a theory or a new concept based on the observation made. It is a popular approach when conducting a qualitative research, though it can also be used in quantitative methods.
It is also necessary for the researcher to determine the appropriate research choice for the study. As McGregor (2017) advises, the research choice should be in line with the selected research philosophy, research approach, and strategy. It should also enable a researcher to achieve the stated objectives and to answer fundamental research questions. In this study, the researcher will use mixed methods research. Qualitative methods will enable the researcher to identify and discuss in details the current practices in the hospitality and tourism industry. It will make it possible to discuss issues about sustainability in the industry and areas that need improvement. It will allow respondents to use their own words in providing detailed explanations to issues under consideration. On the other hand, quantitative methods will enable the researcher to determine the magnitude of the problem and levels of effectiveness of the possible solutions.
The methods that will be embraced in this study will be aligned with the methodology discussed above. The goal will be to comprehensively address the issue under investigation. This section will discuss research strategy, research population, research techniques, data collection methods, and data analysis method,
The research onion above shows that once an appropriate research approach is selected, the next step is to select research strategy that one intends to use in the study. Common strategies include survey, case studies, action research, grounded theory, ethnography, and archival research. In this project, survey will be the most appropriate strategy of collecting data. The researcher will sample a small group of individuals in the hospitality and tourism industry to participate in the survey. The study will also involve collection of secondary data. Books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and reliable websites will be used to facilitate data collection.
When planning to collect data from a given population, it is always advisable to set a given criteria that have to be met by the participants and the population size of those who will participate in the investigation. One of the most important criterion for the participants in the study was that they had to be working in the hospitality or tourism industries. They had to be either employees or employers in this sector of the economy. The participants must be aged over 21 years to qualify for the study. Because of the challenge of reaching out to individuals in this industry, mainly because of COVID-19 pandemic management measures, a relatively small sample of 50 participants was selected. This population was considered adequate to respond to the research questions.
Sampling is an important step when conducting a research. The technique used should be effective enough to facilitate identification of the right respondents. As mentioned above, each participant will need to meet specific inclusion criteria. The researcher intends to use stratified sampling technique to select participants in this study. The two strata that will be used will be stakeholders in the tourism sector and those in the hospitality industry (Worthington and Bodie, 2017). In each stratum, the researcher will use simple random sampling to select those who will be part of the investigation. In each stratum, the researcher will sample random sampling to select the specific individuals to take part in the investigation.
Data Collection Methods
The researcher is expected to define data collection methods that will facilitate gathering information needed to respond to the research questions. Once a sample of respondents is identified, the researcher will use online survey to collect data (Kurum, 2018). Each respondent will be contacted through phone calls, e-mails, or social media platforms. When they agree to take part in the study, they will receive a questionnaire through these online platforms. They will be requested to answer each question in a given format and send back the filled questionnaire within 10 days after receiving the document.
As explained in the section above, data will be analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative research methods to have a comprehensive understanding of the issue under investigation. The first question will be analyzed qualitatively to understand the current impediments to sustainability in the practices embraced in the tourism and hospitality industry. The second question will require quantitative (statistical) analysis to determine if there are stakeholders willing to embrace sustainable practices. The last question will involve the use of qualitative analysis methods to determine if there are any effort to embrace sustainable practices in the industry.
When conducting a research, it is critical for one to ensure that ethical issues are maintained. Deb, Dey and Balas (2019) explain that one of the ethical considerations that have to be undertaken is the need to protect the identity of respondents. Sometimes it is possible for one to be victimized because of their views which may be different from that of the rest of the population. The researcher will ensure that the true identity of those who will be participating in the study is protected, and that the information is used only for academic purposes. The researcher will also maintain academic integrity by ensuring that there is no form of plagiarism or academic malpractices when writing the report.
Timetable for the Research
Having a timeline of activities that should be accomplished in a study within a given period is important. It becomes easy to assess when activities are conducted within the right time based on the duration within which the project has to be completed. Table 1 below shows activities that will be undertaken and the timeline within which they have to be completed. It will start with the proposal development before waiting for the approval. The researcher will then develop a questionnaire that will be used in the collection of primary data. When the approval is received, the researcher will then conduct primary data collection. The primary data will then be analyzed before writing the report. Literature review will be a continuous process, from the stage of data collection to the final stages of writing the report.
Anticipated Problems and Limitations
It is normal for challenges to arise when conducting a research. One of the most concerning issue is the current challenge brought about by COVID-19 pandemic. Although the government has made an effort to empower the public on how to avoid the spread of the virus, strict containment measures are still common. As such, meeting some of the participants physically, as would have been desired to facilitate face-to-face interviews, may not be possible. The researcher will have to rely on online surveys to collect the needed data. Another expected challenge is the difficulty in finding individuals with the right knowledge and experience to respond effectively to the research questions. Some of these participants may also opt not to participate after promising to do so. The researcher will have to address these challenges to achieve the goal of the study.
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