Rural Tourism - An Overview

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 Executive Summary

This research provides an overview of rural tourism, types of tourism, its benefits for rural communities and some examples of rural tourism development in Canadian provinces and other jurisdiction of the world.

Rural tourism can be defined as the ‘country experience’ which encompasses a wide range of attractions and activities that take place in agricultural or non-urban areas. Its essential characteristics include wide-open spaces, low levels of tourism development, and opportunities for visitors to directly experience agricultural and/or natural environments.

Rural tourism is not just farm-based tourism. It includes farm-based holidays but also comprises special interest nature holidays and ecotourism, walking, climbing and riding holidays, adventure, sport and health tourism, hunting and angling, educational travel, arts and heritage tourism, and, in some areas, ethnic tourism. A major form of tourism is agritourism, which refers to, “the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.

There are a wide and innovative set of rural/agritourism products and services available to the traveling public in all Canadian provinces. It includes agritourism, agricultural festivals, special events and festivals, the celebration of village historic sites, country fairs, agricultural travel routes that feature themes. All provincial governments, as well as local communities, are actively involved in rural tourism deployment and support agritourism networks.

Rural tourism is also revolutionizing businesses and prompting economic development across the globe. The US government has implemented several regional and state-wide development projects to increase the effectiveness of rural tourism/farm activities. The Australian and UK governments have also offered a wide range of products and services to promote tourism in the rural areas.

Tourism events have been found to increase business, income and employment in the region and are seen to assist with social and economic development. Rural tourism has many potential benefits for including employment growth, an expanded economic base, repopulation, social improvement, and revitalization of local crafts.

The extent to which these benefits are realized remains the subject of much debate. Certainly, there is evidence to support the claim that, as a vehicle of economic growth and diversification, tourism can make an important contribution to rural incomes both at the level of the tourism operators and more widely in the local economy.

As a general rule, however, rural communities are challenged to take full advantage of the tourism industry due to lack of sufficient infrastructure to support year round visitors. Therefore, in a bid to exploit the cash injection that tourism provides, with minimal additional resources, many rural communities have opted to host tourism events on a yearly basis. However, the single yearly basis events have limited potential benefits to the communities.
Tourism is not the panacea for all rural problems but it has number of positive attractions. It is one of the many opportunities that rural communities might consider to improve productivity and incomes.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Humaira Irshad.
This document is maintained by Stacey Tames.
This information published to the web on January 26, 2011.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 12, 2016.