Impacts of community events and festivals on rural places

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This research provides a literature-review-based overview of community events and festivals. This report also considers the event categories, their importance and the associated impacts on rural communities. The report reviews examples from Canada and other jurisdictions.

Events and festivals tourism is one of the fastest growing forms of tourism. They are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas as a means to revitalize local economies. Festivals and special events play important roles in destination development, image makers, animators of static attractions, and catalysts for other developments.

The term ‘event’ is used to describe a wide range of activities many of which have quite different characteristics. Events vary from local community based events (e.g. Folk Festivals) to major events (e.g. The Olympics).

Events have direct and indirect impacts on communities. They provide opportunities for participation, skills development, volunteering and social, cultural economic and environmental developments. Community events and festivals can attract tourists and visitors at regional, national and international level. Events help to capture attention and promote attractions and infrastructures. They make it possible to maximize and rationalize the use of certain spaces. Preservation of these spaces may result in financial benefits and dissemination of artistic and cultural heritages.

Benefits of festivals to communities can be extensive, particularly when the draw is from outside the region. Research shows that the more involved local people and suppliers are in terms of provision of services, food, beverages, and attractions, the greater the economic benefits to the region. Local vendors, artisans, craftspeople, restaurateurs, hoteliers and innkeepers may make a large portion of their annual income during the course of an event.

Festivals and events have impacts that go well beyond what can be measured in economic terms. They contribute to the quality of life across Canada by strengthening communities, providing unique activities and events, building awareness of diverse cultures and identities, and acting as a source of community pride.

Community festivals and events are also revolutionizing businesses and prompting economic development across the globe. Community events, festivals and arts venues create jobs, support local businesses and attract visitors across the UK, USA and Australia. Governments offer a wide range of products and services to help promote community events in rural areas.

Community events and festivals can make a significant contribution for rural development with strategic planning, well-defined goals, local level partnerships and funding. However rural communities often organize tourism events to inject cash into their economies. This cash is not enough to achieve comprehensive rural economic development. Events assist the tourism businesses of the region but are not enough to revive the entire economy.

Click here to view a pdf of the full report.

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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 September 13, 2011.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 28, 2015.