Document Type : Original Article
Mohaghegh Ardebili University, Iran
Purpose- Ecotourism is a foundation of sustainable development of societies and a way for conserving natural landscapes and reservoirs. In this regard, rural tourism, especially rural ecotourism, is a sort of tourism that can be highly effective in the revival of villages considering the natural and cultural capacities of these areas. So, this research analyzes the infrastructure for the development of rural ecotourism in Ardabil province, Iran.
Design/methodology/approach- The research is an applied study in goal and an analytical study in nature. The research realm includes 311 villages with a population of over 500 people in Ardabil province. The research adopted the TOPSIS model. The criteria used to measure the ecotourism potential included healthcare, transportation infrastructure, business and services, information technology, energy, and cultural, sports, and religious infrastructure. Weights were assigned by experts to the criteria based on their importance.
Finding- The results showed that the villages with the highest potential for the development of rural ecotourism in the counties of Ardabil, Bileh Savar, Parsabad, Khalkhal, Sareyn, Kowsar, Germi, Meshgin Shahr, Nir, and Namin included Somarin, Gug Tappeh, Shahrak-e Gharbi, Shal, Ardi Musa, Zarjabad, Qarah Aghaj-e Pain, Alni, Virseq, and Anbaran-e Olya. In this regard, the village of Anbaran-e Olya in Namin exhibits the best performance across the province with a CL score of 1. Out of all studied villages, 86 percent were placed in the moderate and low category, 2 percent in the very high category, 8 percent in the high category, and 4 percent in the very low category.
Research limitations/implications - The main limitation of the research is the lack of access to up-to-date information.
Practical implications- Given the results, it is recommended to invest in villages that have the potential for ecotourism, thereby contributing to attracting tourists and converting them into rural tourism hubs.
Originality/value- The analysis of the potential of Ardabil province, which is a tourist destination, for the development of rural ecotourism can help identify touristy villages to focus on their prosperity.