Influence of Stakeholders' Engagement on Sustainability of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry in Kakamega County, Kenya.
Ndeche, Kassim Kweyu
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Tourism is currently among the world’s fastest-growing segments of the economy that deal with emerging opportunities and challenges of the global competitive market. Issues of coordination, collaboration and the role of stakeholders’ engagement in a tourism and hospitality destination have been widely acknowledged; however, it is still one of the industry's key stambling blocks of sustainable development practice. Therefore, this study aimed to address the identified gaps by establishing the influence of stakeholders’ engagement on the sustainability of the tourism and hospitality industry in Kakamega County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were to determine the influence of the stakeholders’ activities, stakeholders’ level of involvement, stakeholders’ attitudes, stakeholders’ best practices, and their impact on tourism and hospitality industry sustainability. Additionally, the study sought to establish the mediating effect of the business environment on the stakeholders’ activities and the sustainability of the tourism and hospitality industry. The study adopted the mixed method design to collect primary data. Taro Yamane (1967:886) simplified formula was used to select a sample size of 184 respondents from the target population of 349 enrolled in the study. The target population was tourism stakeholders in Kakamega County. A purposive sampling method was used to sample tour operator managers, HOD of tourism training institutions, and managers of local NGO. Census was used to sample senior county officers in charge of tourism, senior government officers, and hotel managers, and a stratified sampling technique was used to sample registered members of local tourism association based on their availability, contribution or relevance to tourism and hospitality industry sustainability in Kakamega County. The research instruments used to collect primary data were questionnaires and interview schedules. Data analysis involved using descriptive statistics where frequencies, mean and standard deviation were used; inferential statistics were also conducted, including correlation and regression analyses. The results were disseminated through the qualitative description and the use of visual tools like tables, bars, and pie charts. It is hoped that the findings of this study will inform policy on how stakeholders' engagement influences tourism development in a destination, contribute to the knowledge gap, and create room for further research. The analysis revealed an R square of 0.666, implying that stakeholders’ activities, level of involvement, attitudes and perceptions, and best practices explain 66.6 percent of the sustainable tourism and hospitality industry variations in Kakamega County. The study found that stakeholders’ activities had a significant positive relationship with sustainable tourism and the hospitality industry (p < .05; β = .903); stakeholders’ level of involvement had a significant positive relationship with sustainable tourism and the hospitality industry (p < .05; β = 1.023); stakeholders’ attitudes and perceptions had an insignificant positive relationship with sustainable tourism and hospitality industry (p > .05; β = .867), the results revealed that stakeholders’ best practices had a significant positive relationship with sustainable tourism and hospitality industry (p < .05; β = .697). Regarding mediation, the business environment partially intervened in the relationship between stakeholders’ engagements and sustainable tourism and hospitality development in Kakamega County. Based on these findings, the study concluded that it is crucial for the tourism and hospitality industry in Kakamega County to emphasize the role of different stakeholders for its sustainability. This study hence recommended that the management of tourism and hospitality establishments in Kakamega County develop comprehensive and elaborate stakeholder’ engagement plans to enhance the sustainability of the sector in the County.