Back-to-trueself as an Identity Element of Indiana Rural Tourism

Liping Cai, Shangzhi Qiu, Zhuowei Huang, Xinran Lehto


Tourism branding has an impact on a rural community’s economic development and overall wellbeing, so it should be designed carefully. This study proposes the concept of back-to-trueself as an identity element of rural tourism and presents a branding model which is illustrated by the case of ‘Honest-to-Goodness’ brand of the State of Indiana in the United States. The study is contextualized in the growing trends of urbanization and the resultant concerns of its effect on quality of life. The proposed model suggests that rural communities branded with the back-to-trueself element meets the need for urban residents to relieve self-presentational concern and at the same time pursue an authentic way of life. The model takes into consideration the primary motivation of rural tourists, rural community’s attractiveness to urban residents, and their loyalty to the destination brand.

Keywords: existential authenticity, trueself, rural tourism, rural community, quality of life, tourism branding

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.