WG14 – Rural tourism (agri-tourism) and changing urban demands
Since some decades ago, rural tourism and related activities have been considered important tools to promote and/or to foster local development, particularly in peripheral rural regions. Although the transformations in the role, meaning and place of agriculture have induced major changes in the socioeconomic fabrics of many rural areas, the consequences of these changes are particularly profound in marginal rural contexts. In these regions the loss of their productive character has strongly contributed to the emergence of new roles and functions. It is a multifunctional rural, and mostly a consumable one, that emerges from this set of transformations. Within the multifunctional nature of agriculture in many peripheral rural areas, tourism and leisure activities, together with environmental protection, appear to be key elements.
Although rural tourism is not a consensual concept, and it includes many forms of tourism (e.g. agri-tourism, village tourism, nature and eco-tourism) a common (and very broad) definition suggests that it should include all the tourism activities developed in a rural area, motivated and sustained by all the features of rurality and inducing connections between the social and economic contexts. Therefore, rural tourism should stand on local activities and characteristics (e.g. agriculture, landscape, natural resources), promoting connections and interactions between them and, as such, contributing to sustainable local development in generally disadvantaged contexts. However, most of the empirical evidence produced up to now has shown that the connections between tourism and the broader rural contexts are often faint by a diversity of reasons, ranging from the small-scale of tourism enterprises, to the vulnerability of local contexts, as well as from the absence of efficient networking to the marketing strategies used.
Specifically, contributions should address the following topics:
• the connections and interactions between rural tourism and local economic, social and cultural activities
• the new institutional arrangements that are successful in promoting rural tourism and sustainable development
• the new marketing & communication concepts that are emerging (role of social media) in relation to changing urban demands and changing urban customer groups
• the contributions of rural tourism to sustainable rural development, particularly in peripheral regions
• the role of tourism for the development of innovative (rural) products
• the diverse demands, consumptions, expectations and ‘gazes’ of tourists regarding rural tourism destinations
• the transformations of rural and local identities as consequence of rural tourism
• the changes in rural tourism demands, consumptions, offers, products and contributions to local development in the current context of economic crisis.
Abstract proposals are invited that offer both empirical and conceptual perspectives on the above mentioned topics. Abstracts should be submitted through the website of the conference (http://www.agricultureinanurbanizingsociety.com/) until March, 31st, 2015.
Elisabete Figueiredo, Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences, University of Aveiro, Portugal. email@example.com
Antonio Raschi, IBIMET, National Research Council, Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org