In tourism, entrepreneurial internationalisation is considered a measure of the development of the industry and a key driver of innovation, competitiveness and image enhancement. In nautical tourism, research is still scarce in terms of supporting business’ internationalisation. This paper analyses factors constraining the international growth of island-based nautical tourism organisations. For the research, a sample of 60 nautical tourism SMEs´ owners of six different islands in the Macaronesia Region (Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde archipelagos) were interviewed. As a result, we provide up to date information about current conditions and barriers to the internationalisation process within the segment and also identify the profile of the firms with the best international performance. The study is of great usefulness for the industry as it guides on the areas that require special attention to enhance those social, environmental and economic conditions of nautical tourism firms that ensure sustainable international growth. Moreover, it helps policymakers of island destinations seeking specialisation and positioning within the international nautical tourism market to raise the efficiency of current incentive mechanisms for internationalisation, thus contributing to increase tourism competitiveness. Finally, the study highlights the importance of fostering wider cooperation among islands with common interests in nautical specialisation and the challenges that this represents for the tourism management.
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