Social welfare is the most important part of the concept of sustainable development which provides the possibility of meeting the needs of today's generation without destroying the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Rural social welfare includes an organized series of laws, regulations and policies, which are presented in the form of welfare and social institutions in order to meet the spiritual and material needs of people and to provide human felicity. The development literature suggests that promotion of rural social welfare indices is a function of various factors such as tourism activities. Development and prosperity of rural tourism as an efficient catalyst for the reproduction and the promotion of social welfare in rural areas should be highlighted. Accordingly, this study aimed to investigate the effects of tourism on the promotion of social welfare indices in rural areas of the Meshginshahr county.
Method: This study was conducted through a survey method using simple random sampling among 331 residents of Onar village, a touristy village. On the one hand, in order to have an equal test and result, using causal-comparative, 331 residents of Kojang village a non-touristy village were selected through causal-comparative method as the control group. The validity of the questionnaire was confirmed by a panel of experts. A pre-test was carried out with 30 questionnaires and by using Cronbach's alpha coefficient the reliability of the study was 0/79.
Findings: With regard to the characteristics of indicators of social welfare of two groups, tourism development had an impact on all indicators of social welfare, except for membership in civic organizations. In other words, statistical analysis showed that development in tourism had an effect on the promotion of social welfare indicators in rural areas of Meshginshahr, as the correlation between tourism development and all components of the promotion of social welfare indicators except for the membership in civic organizations hypothesis was proved. In this regard, the calculated P for tourism development with leisure components, access to education, access to health services, personal well-being, diversity, social participation, social capital and housing situation was less than 0/01.
Discussion: Tourism plays an important role in the promotion of social welfare indices in terms of improved housing, personal well-being, strengthening social capital, strengthening the participation of rural residents as stakeholders in rural development projects and strengthening social sustainability, creating social connections, improving productivity due to increased awareness and reducing conflicts collective and strengthening the education and health infrastructure in rural areas. Finally, in order to develop rural tourism due to its positive effects on the promotion of social welfare indices in rural areas of Meshginshahr, tourism infrastructures such as water supply, electricity, waste disposal, sewage and telecommunications have to be properly developed in this city.
Also, protecting and preserving the environment, efficient and balanced use of natural resources and rural assets should be taken into account and any interference with the structure of the village for rural tourism planning should be carried out alongside increasing the awareness of villagers, participation rural and the involvement of the villagers in the process of rural tourism as the main beneficiaries of the project. There should be a financial support for the development of rural tourism in rural areas of Meshginshahr. The results of this study showed that tourism development had an impact on in the promotion of social welfare indices in rural areas of Meshginshahr.