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Marketing Quality Rural Tourism

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Towards "local charters for quality"

document type: report
keywords: rural tourism, methodology
source: LEADER technical dossier
last update:3/95

The LEADER network is not trying to impose on its members a "quality charter" that would not be appropriate given the diversity of the local situations and the national and regional legal frameworks. Such a charter can only be defined and implemented at local level, as the efficiency of a first-class approach is conditioned by the backing of service providers who are the first people concerned with giving a service of quality.

It is up to the LAGs to initiate the implementation of quality plans that include all of the tourism partners. The latter should agree on quality objectives, on action plans to reach them and on follow-up measures in order to be in a position to apply them over the long term.

The quality of the tourism: a challenge for the LEADER areas

Quality is the first determining factor for the development of a tourist activity that creates value added in the local economy.

In the very competitive tourism market, the first objective of a rural territory is to guarantee to visitors a high level of satisfaction with the services as a whole which contribute to his stay as well as a high level of quality in the development of tourism resources.

LEADER impact

The rural territories engaged in this quality approach are practising solidarity to face this challenge. They are aiming at being identified as " the best destinations in rural tourism".

In this capacity, they give themselves a framework of common policies allowing them to harmonize the operational implementation of local tourism quality plans.

They undertake to facilitate their implementation by making provisions in their LEADER project for technical assistance and training that will facilitate the adhesion of all of the tour operators to the quality objectives and put them in a position to reach them.

It is only to the extent that this quality objective is taken into account in a significant number of LEADER areas that the setting up of cooperation networks in the tourism sector and the implementation of promotion actions will be meaningful.

Policy framework for local quality plans in the tourism sector.
Major objectives and orientation of the actions

1) The development of the territory's tourism resources

A territory's tourist potential depends above all on its natural capital, on the quality of its scenery, sites and monuments, on the vivacity of the local culture.
It is in this area that public tourism development policies can intervene the most directly, by contributing to the image of the area and to the renown of the destination

Objective to be reached

Orientation of the actions

Deepen the knowledge of the natural and cultural potential so as to be able to make it a principal element of the offer. Carry out inventory studies of the potential before the development programme by taking into account coherent geographical units and not administrative ones.

Promote a conservation policy that guarantees the attractiveness of the area and the perenniality of its potential. Urge the local area management bodies to have protection schemes and development programmes accompanied by operational measures:

Make the natural and cultural potential a real tourist product by facilitating discovery.
  • Creation and organizing of discovery itineraries with adequate sign-posting and light didactical equipment (theme routes, excursion itineraries).

  • Setting up of scenery plans that highlight the overall image of the area.

  • Development programme for sites and monuments that appeal strongly in order to ensure overall promotion of the territory.

  • Taking into account of the living patrimony (traditional trades, traditional fairs and feasts, cultural activities) in a cultural policy accompanied by financial means.
Make the population adhere to the protection and development of the natural and cultural resources. With awareness-raising and education in the environment programmes, with support to local associations for the safeguard of the patrimony and the environment

2) Improvement of accommodation and catering services.

This is the first tourist service that has to be developed to a sufficient volume and to an undeniable level of quality. It has to be coherent with the image of authenticity and of hospitality that constitutes rural tourism and not copy urban consumer fashions while guaranteeing quality of service. It is in this area that the intervention of the LAGs will be the most difficult and will involve the creation of an adequate partnership structure conciliating the various accommodation and catering services.

Objective to be reached

Orientation of the actions

Promote accommodation with character working principally on the architectural quality, the improvement of the accesses, the style and the decoration.
  • Implement architectural and landscape assistance that will accompany the aids for creation and renovation.

  • Promote catering actions and the improvement of old accommodation

  • Help with the setting up of reference operations in stately homes of quality.
Personalize the reception, develop a convivial relationship style, a cultural environment, a "host's philosophy". Make provisions for tourist reception training programmes by associating the socio-professional organizations of the hotel and catering industry and the farming and rural accommodation organizations

Promote the use of local products and of traditional cooking. Set up cooperation between producers, food artisans and restaurant keepers.

Create a real network of hosts in the area who have a similar approach to life. Implement concerted promotion and entertainment actions. Organize an association of hosts (by branch or if possible intersectorial) and put at their disposal budgets for technical assistance, animation and training in order to work on the objectives of quality and reception.

Conceive each accommodation as a relay point for information about the resources and entertainment and leisure activities Provide an information box in each accommodation which supplies the tourists with basic information tools (cartography, books, leaflets, activity programmes).

Survey the quality of the overall offer in the area over the long term Provide satisfaction forms that can be sent back to the association of hosts.

3) The organization of leisure and entertainment

LEADER areas should attract notice by their ability to set up on the territory entertainment and leisure activities that reinforce their attractiveness, their discovery tourism vocation, their image as original tourist destinations.

Objective to be reached

Orientation of the actions

Offer the clients a variety of leisure, entertainment, discovery activities, coherent with the territory's potential and image. Setting up of a training scheme for the animation of leisure activities adapted to the different types of local actor.

Group the partners according to the leisure activity
  • Aid plan for pluriactivity in the organization of leisure activities.

  • Creation of local leisure-reception groups offering a whole range of accommodation and leisure activities

  • Implementing of tourism products linking the reception to activity proposals (from the holiday with à la carte activities to the theme holiday).

  • Aid to local animation programmes (celebrations, fairs,cultural activities).

Associate the population in tourist entertainment. Support to volunteer organizations

4) Tourist reception and information.

Being a tourist country involves offering a professional reception framework, a network of specific places able to meet the visitors' requests for information.

Objective to be reached

Orientation of the actions

.Propose a reception service in each area. Facilitate the setting up of an appropriate system for information about accommodation, leisure activities, the area's resources, with trained personnel and the guarantee of a telephone service.

Place information documentation at the disposal of the public. Publication of information tools:
  • Accommodation, leisure activities, natural and cultural resources guide.

  • Didactic cartography

5) Tourism promotion and the reception facilities of the LEADER areas.

Choosing a territory as a destination, choosing this one rather than that one, involves getting a message, being seduced by an image, receiving a proposal for a variety of reception facilities and leisure activities, being able to be sure of the purchase. A tourism promotion policy and the organization of reception facilities that make the LEADER areas present on the market are the result of a tourism development project.

Objective to be reached

Orientation of the actions

Check the relevance of the area's size as a tourist catchment area and enter into partnership with neighbouring territories if necessary.. Survey of area's reputation so as to be able to determine tourist potential. Graph giving uniformity of style and image to the information documents for the general public.

Organize promotion around a common image of the territory respected by all the partners.. Market research so as to be able to recognize the targeted clientele.

Present the tourist area on the tourist market.
  • Joint action of all the communication media and promotional campaign partners.

  • Creation of a promotion association

  • Training of service providers in selling.

  • Assistance to the partners to equip themselves with a joint marketing tool and/or to make contracts with the tourism distribution networks.

6) Guarantee the clients overall quality.

The clients must have the assurance of optimal quality in all the services provided and in all aspects of the territory developed in the promotion and sales campaign. The keystone of a long-term tourism development policy depends on the implementation and monitoring over the long term of local tourism quality plans.

Objective to be reached

Orientation of the actions

To develop tourism quality culture
  • Quality plans setting major objectives, means, monitoring and review procedures.

  • Quality training programmes for all those involved.

  • Technical aid for professionals (intervention of specialists).

  • Creation of an appropriate coordination structure to monitor the application of quality plans over the long term.

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