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Marketing Quality Rural Tourism

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The Prerequisites
Need for Quality

document type: article
keywords: rural tourism \ product quality
source: LEADER technical dossier
last update:3/95

The prerequisites


What are the prerequisites for rural tourism to be a successful factor in local development?


First of all, the objectives must be clearly defined for each specific situation and, on the basis of these, steps should be taken to offer an attractive and original tourism product. The following set of priority conditions can be defined:


- maintaining an optimal balance between the area's ecological, socio-economic and cultural systems, while establishing a process of development and therefore of change within it;


- providing an additional source of income to the local population, helping them to withstand the crisis in agriculture and in rural society. This implies local control over investment decisions;


- contributing to the diversification of economic activities through the broadening of the range of local services and products, in themselves a factor heightening the area's attractiveness for tourists;


- fostering the exchange between cultures and peoples in a spirit of mutual understanding and respect, a factor which contributes to solidarity and social cohesion;


- encouragement of a coordinated land planning policy that improves the competitiveness of economic activities in the most disadvantaged areas and provides them with the infrastructure and amenities vital for a high quality of life for both local people and visitors.


These are the prerequisites which must be met as best possible by a tangible rural tourism model if it is to preserve the rural lifestyle and meet economic viability requirements.


Need for quality


Rural tourism can and already is making a significant contribution to the development process in the most disadvantaged areas. It does this through its threefold role: as a generator of income and jobs; as a promoter of infrastructure and vector of exchanges and synergies between rural and urban areas; and through its multiplier effect on relatively small-scale direct investment. Its impact can be amplified by attaining a high quality level and by offering products and services which respond to ever growing demand (annual growth rate of 6% in recent years, or twice that of "traditional" coastal tourism).


Rural tourism is not, however, a cure for all ills and does not supply a definitive solution to the problems of economic and social marginalisation suffered by many rural areas. Tourism development must be balanced by development in other areas, as part of an integrated rural development model. If development is anchored almost exclusively in rural tourism, then often the imbalance will weaken the development process.


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