Definition of rural tourism and its types

The concept of rural tourism is multidimensional and there are several different definitions about rural tourism. The followings are some examples: according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], rural tourism is defined as tourism taking place in the countryside.

It has been argued above that rurality as a concept is connected with low population densities and open space, and with small scale settlements, generally of fewer than 10 000 inhabitants. Land use is dominated by farming, forestry and natural areas. Societies tend towards traditionalism: the influence of the past is often strong.

Government policies lean towards conservation rather than radical or rapid change.

It follows, therefore, that rural tourism should be:

• Located in rural areas;

• Functionally rural, built upon the rural world’s special features: small scale enterprise, open space, contact with nature and the natural world, heritage "traditional" societies and "traditional"practices;

• Rural in scale — both in terms of buildings and settlements — and, therefore, usually small scale

• Traditional in character, growing slowly and organically, and connected with local families. It will often be very largely controlled locally and developed for the long term good of the area;

• Sustainable — in the sense that its development should help sustain the special rural character of an area, and in the sense that its development should be sustainable in its use of resources. Rural tourism should be seen as a potential tool for conservation and sustainability, rather than as an urbanizing and development tool;

• Of many different kinds, representing the complex pattern of rural environment, economy, and history.

According to Lane (1994a) rural tourism should: be located in rural areas, functionally rural, rural in scale i. e. usually small-scale; be traditional in character; grow slowly and organically; be connected with local families; and represent the complex pattern of rural environment, economy, history and location.

Descried rural tourism as multi-faceted activity rather than farm-based tourism only. It not only 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 (Baramwell& Lane, 1994).

Rural tourism refers to those traveling activities that aim at pursuing natural and humanistic attraction with rurality in rural area (Jingming& Lihua, 2002).

Macdonald and Jolliff (2003) introduced the concept into this patticular study and defined it as cultural rural tourism. By this definition rural tourism refers to a distinct rural community with its own traditions, heritage, arts, lifestyles, places, and values as preserved between generations. When tourists visit these areas, they are well informed about the culture and experienced folklore, costoms, natural landscapes, and historical landmarks. They may also enjoy other activities in a rural setting such as nature, adventure, sports, festivals, crafts, and general sightseeing.

The connection between rural tourism, agricultural tourism and farm tourism is synthesized in figure 1. In relation to the scope of rural tourism, McGehee & Kim (2004) provide examples of tourism types as illustrated in Figure 1 below:


Fig. 1. The classification of different tourism activities in rural areas (McGehee & Kim, 2004)

Rural tourism, or rurally-located tourism, can include the above but also campsites, lodges, safari drives, craft markets, cultural displays, adventure sports, walking trails, heritage sites, musical events indeed any tourist activity taking place in a rural area (Table 2). Rural tourism is a kind of rural activities and its characteristic is natural and humanistic (It includes customs, scenery, landscape (about local country and agricultural) and other attractions, Its types of activities basically are leisure, sightseeing, experience and learning, and so on (Jingming & Lihua 2002; Deqian, 2006; Holland, Burian & Dixey, 2003). According to Nilsson, rural tourism is based on the rural environment in general whereas farm tourism is based on the farm and farmer. This means that within the framework of rural tourism, farm tourism enterprises are more closely related to agriculture than other rural tourism operations.




Areas for picking wild vegetables, sightseeing

Picking wild vegetables

Explanations and maps on signboards, paths, restrooms

Areas to experience agricultural life and culture of mountain people

Triditional agricultural activities, tours

Explanations and maps on signboards, paths, restrooms

Trout fishing

Ecology of trout fishing

Parking area, landscape beautification

Exhibition of agricultural products

Selling agricultural products, traditional culure of mountain people

Service center for seling agricultural products and tradional crafts

Meals made from local specialtles

Tasting and knowing how to cook with local special ingredients

Noticeboards, parking area, service center, landscape beautification


Staying with local people

Noticeboards, parking area, landscape beautification, improvement of accommodation facilities

Waterfall areas

Sight-seeing at water – falls, often with butterflies

Noticeboards, landscape beautification, parking areas

Cultural area of mountain people ( Buson tribe)

Exhibilition of culture, dancing, traditional festivals

Explanations and maps on signboards, exhibition center, museum, festivals, parking areas

Natural landscape area

Climbing, hiking

Paths, noticeboards to signal route and warm of any dangers

Heritage area

Heritage interpretation, telling of folk storles

Explanations and maps on signboards, setting out of tourist route

Table 2. Activities and facilities in different zones (Hong, 1998)

Agri-tourism is when the purpose of the visit has a specific agricultural focus such as being with animals, enjoying a vineyard. Tourism on the farms enables farmers to diversify their activities while enhancing the value of their products and property. Farm tourism also helps to reconcile farming interests and environmental protection through integrated land management in which farmers continue to play a key role. Tourists who choose farm accommodation rather than other kinds of accommodation facilities look for genuine rural atmosphere where they can share intimacy of the household they live in, learn traditional crafts and skills with their hosts, make friends which is a quality, modern times have almost forgotten and above all enjoy home made food and drinks. Some specific food labels can help consumers establish a local produce and can be used as a selling point to tourist who want to taste home grown quality food and drink. Agritourism "is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries — agriculture and travel/tourism—to open up new, profitable markets for farm products and services and provide travel experience for a large regional market (Wicks & Merrett, 2003). Agritourism helps preserve rural lifestyles and landscape and also offers the opportunity to provide "sustainable" or "green" tourism (Privitera, 2010). Agritourism can be defined as a subset of rural tourism (Reid et a!., 2000), and "includes a range of activities, services and amenities provided by farmers and rural people to attract tourists to their area in order to generate extra income for their businesses" (Gannon, 1994).

Farm tourism is when accommodation for rural tourists is provided on farms. The core activity is in the wider rural area (walking, boating) but the vast majority of visitors are accommodated on farms, either working farms or farms converted to accommodation facilities. Farm tourism activities can include farm markets, wineries, U-Picks, farming interpretive centers, farm-based accommodation and events, and agriculture-based festivals.

Heritage and cultural tourism in rural areas comes in a wide range of forms most of which are unique to an individual local and a valuable component of the rural tourism product. Heritage and cultural tourism includes temples, rural buildings but may be extended to local features of interest including war remnants, monuments to famous literary, artistic or scientific people, historic remains, archeological sites, traditional parkland etc.

Eco tourism; many tourists visit rural areas for the purpose of bird and animal watching and learning about local flora and fauna. Rural tourist destination as a product is definitely very fragile in ecological, social and cultural sense. Its development requires very specific approach that could help it remain sustainable in the long term. In many rural regions, tourism is accepted as a natural part of the socio-economic fabric juxtaposed with agriculture.

Rural tourism is among the most polymorphous of all forms of Special Interest Tourism (SIT). The diversity of attractions included within rural tourism embrace: Indigenous and European heritage sites, Aspects of culture (agriculture), Industrial tourism (farm practices), Education tourism, Special events, Ecological attractions, Adventure tourism and Wine tourism.

Such diversity represents major opportunities for rural areas that have turned to tourism as a means of supplementing diminished incomes (Douglas & Derret 2001).

Lane, (1994) identifies four necessary features for the sustainable rural tourism strategies as:

• It is important that the person or team formulating the strategy is skilled not only in tourism development but also in economic, ecological and social analysis

• Wide consultations amongst all interest groups are essential. These consultations will include trade and business, transport, farmers, administrators, and the custodians of the natural and historic assets of the area

• Tourism relies more than any other industry on local goodwill. The local population must be happy with their visitors and the secure in the knowledge that the visitor influx will not overwhelm their live, increase their income hosts and impose new and unwelcome value systems on them

• The strategy-making process should not be a once-only affair. It has to be an evolving long-term enterprise, able to cope with change, and able to admit to its own mistakes and shortcomings. It is the beginning of a partnership between business, government and cultural and conservation interests

In recent years, rural tourism has been developing rapidly. In order to promote the development of rural tourism, the local government paid more and more attention to the planning of rural tourism. Rural Tourism (RT) has long been recognized in certain parts of Europe as an effective catalyst of rural socio-economic regeneration for over a hundred years.

Rural tourism can therefore encompass a wide range of rural – based attractions, events and services that can provide the context for economic diversification and a mediating factor for sustainability. Rural tourism can promote heritage appreciation and resource conservation, contribute to social-economic change, and provide the context for interactionbetween local rural peopleand the tourists. On the other hand, rural tourism development can promote undesirable changes in the landscape, negatively influence the social-cultural values of a region, and promote inauthentic representations of local customs and ways of life. In the case of farm tourism, the sustainability of the tourism product can also be influenced by the degree to which operators have developed managerial skills, such as product and market development and customer service skills (Colton & Glyn, 2005)

Rural tourism planning process begins with choosing qualified villages to attract tourists. In fact the first step of rural tourism planning management is to select potential villages for rural tourism. Finally the managerial operations must be implemented in order to maximize the benefits of mral tourism processes (Mahmoudi, Haghsetan, Meleki, 2011).

Rural tourism planning can be organized as shown (Figure 2);


Fig. 2. Planning procedure for rural tourism (Hong, 1998).