Social Issues / Rural Tourism

Rural Tourism

This essay Rural Tourism is available for you on Essays24.com! Search Term Papers, College Essay Examples and Free Essays on Essays24.com - full papers database.

Autor:  anton  23 December 2010
Tags:  Tourism
Words: 6962   |   Pages: 28
Views: 262

RURAL TOURISM

After the introduction of the concept of sustainable develop¬ment by the World Commis¬sion on Environment and Development (1987), this concept was widely accepted by the vast majority of Western countries including the European Union as a star¬ting point for their policies. The acceptance of this approach can be seen as an expression of the increasing environmental awareness at the end of the eighties. On the other hand, it can be argued that the introduction of such a concept was strongly related to the failure of traditional environmental policies in the previous decades. This failure necessitated the introduction of a general new approach aimed at realising a more sound environ¬ment.

When pollution of the environment comes up for discussion certain sectors are often seen as the main cause of environmental disruption. In most countries special attention has been given to the pollution of steel mills, oil refineries, traffic and intensive agriculture. Generally speaking, tourism was not seen as a real threat to nature and the environ¬ment. Recently, this picture has changed. There is an increasing awareness of the strong relationship between tourism and the quality of nature and the environment. One of the results of this development is that the concept of sustainable development has been accepted in tourism studies (Farell and McLellan, 1987; Farell and Runyan, 1991, Briassoulis and Van der Straaten, 1992). In addition, authorities took this approach as a star¬ting point for their environ¬mental and economic policies (Van der Straaten, 1992). Recently, the European Union accepted the Fifth Action Programme 'Towards Sustainability' in which tourism is given special attention (1992).

However, the acceptance of the concept of sustainable development does not mean that this concept is implemented in all concrete policies of countries and of the European Union. It has to be said that nobody is against sustainable develop¬ment. It can be accepted by every polluting industry as a starting point for realising a sound environ¬mental situation. However, as soon as vested interests become aware that authori¬ties have the intention to introduce strict norms and stand¬ards in their sector, they generally have a different opinion. They argue that in this special case the economic posi¬tion of the pollut¬ing sector is too important to be confronted with strict norms. From many investiga¬tions it becomes clear that vested economic interests are, in many cases, able to neutralise the implementation of strict norms (see for example Kasperkovitz, 1992; Opschoor and Van der Straaten, 1993; Dietz and Van der Straaten, 1992).

The aim of this chapter is to investigate the implementa¬tion of sustainable tourism in La Sierra in La Rioja in Spain, and in the Northern Pennines in the United Kingdom. These regions have many characteristics in common. They are typical rural regions in which employ¬ment has decreased for a long period and in which traditional agriculture has taken a dominant position for many decades. The regions include mountain areas with stock-farming, in particular sheep, and forestry being the major sources of income. Both regions can be defined as periph¬eral which implies that the intensifi¬ca¬tion of agriculture has not been so dominant as is the case in the more centrally located agricul¬tural regions. The average income is relatively low in both regions, emigration figures are high, and unemployment figures are high (Mellors, 1990; Commis¬sion of the European Community, 1990; Fernandez, 1993). Last century both regions were relatively prosperous. In La Rioja, wine, ceramic and textile industries were the main sectors, whereas in the North Pennines lead-ore mining was the major economic activity. However, in this century the agricultural activities became more significant. Nowadays, agricultural restructuring (Common Agricultural Policy initiated by the European Union) result again in a decline of the local economy. Alternative economic activities, including tourism, are being sought in order to revitalise the local economy in the long tern (Commission of the European Commun¬ity, 1990-b and 1992).

After the Second World War, as the rural economy declined, many people emigrated to the nearby industrialised regions. For instance in the 1970's more than fifty villages in La Sierra were abandoned as Logrono, Pamplona and Bilbao industrialised. It is a similar picture in the North Pennines region where high levels of average employment can be found, in particular amongst the younger population.

Both areas are rich in cultural heritage as they were both economic centres in previous centuries. Lead-ore mines in the North Pennines and mineral mines in La Sierra are recently reopened as a tourist attraction. Additionally, La Rioja has become well-known for its wine and agricultural products. In both areas well preserved remnants can be found of old cul¬tures, such as the Celts and the Romans, while Christian and Arab civilization played a significant role in La Rioja (Elias, 1992).

Both regions are, for different reasons, attractive as a tourist destina¬tion. How¬ever, tourist infrastructure does not meet the condi¬tions of mass tourism. Of course, there are many differences between these two regions. The most significant is that La Rioja is located in 'sunny' Spain, while the Northern Pennines are often associated with clouds, fog, and low temperatures.

Rural areas such as La Rioja and the Northern Pennines have become potential tourist destinations as they characterise the authentic rural life and the peace and quietness of the natural landscape. Visitors search for places to relax, to break away from daily routines and to sense a kind of freedom and escapism. In these regions tourism can be promoted as a major source of regional income. However, due to the many examples of uncontrolled tourism development in other areas of Spain and in Italy, and the increasing relevance of environ¬mental issues, sustainable develop¬ment and segmented marketing have been regarded as most important in order to manage tourism successfully in the country¬side. Within sustainable development the environmental and cultural integrity of the area is maintained for the benefits of tourists and residents.

The objectives and strategies of the regional authorities in these two mountain regions within the European Union, which focus on sustainable tourism, have been studied. In both regions partnerships between the major funding organisations and the public authorities have been established. In La Sierra in La Rioja the European Union is directly involved; in the Northern Pennines tourism facilities and attractions are being developed by the existing regional and national organisations. This has been stimulated in La Sierra by subsidies which are based on objective 5B of the Structural Funds of the European Union: areas lagging behind in economic development. In the North Pennines no direct funding has been allocated. Some projects in this area, however, have received funding from adjacent regions according to objective 2 of the Structural Funds of the European Union: areas in industrial decline.

Both regions show similar approaches in the development of tourism, which include:

* Marketing strategies to increase the awareness of tourists that the region is a potential destination and to convince the local population of the benefits of tourism for the rural community (building image).

* The organisation of training courses in management and administration for local small-scale enterprises.

* An increase and improvement of accommodation facilities.

* The encouragement of local associations and partnerships to set up projects in order to establish organisational structures within the development of tourism such as farming holidays.

* A direct involvement in developing and initiating projects through an overall coordinating management team.

* The promotion of agro-tourism while encouraging farmers to start offering tourist accommodation.

* The improvement of the communication between the tourism industry and the organisations involved on the conservation of the environment.

European Union funding has been allocated in order to diversify the economical activities in the region which includes the promotion of traditional craftswork, the production of 'green' agricultural goods and the development of tourism facilities and attractions. In doing this, the Union tries to increase employment, to halt migration from local villages, to improve the quality of life and to create another source of income for people living in the region. However, there are rural regions that do no receive Union funding directly in the development of sustainable tourism. In this case, financial resources can be obtained from the existing institutions and sustainable tourism will be pursued through different organisational structures. In both regions tourism development is not regarded as the only key to regenerate the local economy. This implies that other projects which are beneficial to the environment are being promoted too. This promotion includes the production of 'green' products, local crafts and artisans. These issues are not only promoted by the European Union; in the North Pennines the same development can be recognised.

However, it is questionable whether this development will be successful. Many obstacles and barriers are present. A relevant question deals with the relationship between the aims of the European Union in the field of regional development on the one hand, and the implementation of sustainable tourism on the other. Generally speaking, regional and social funds from the European Union aim at 'developing' rural and peripherally located regions. These funds are very often used for improving the quality of the infra¬structure. The central point is whether this regional 'development' frustrates the implemen¬tation of sustainable tourism. In addition, the influence of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union has to be given special attention. This policy aims at modernising agriculture by focusing on special products for the European regions. The European market can absorb these products at a low price when specialisation takes place. How¬ever, this specialisation on certain products will undoubtly have a negative influence on the ecological qualities of the agricultural areas. By doing this, the tourism attractiveness of these regions will be reduced.

In this chapter a description is given of field studies undertaken in the two regions by the first author in 1992 and 1993. It was investigated how far sustainable tourism could be realised in these regions, what the initiatives of regional authorities were, and which role the European Union played in these regions. Finally special attention is given to the obstacles and barriers for realising sustainable tourism in these regions.

2 The LEADER-programme in La Sierra

Tourism in La Sierra in La Rioja, Spain, have been developed by using subsidies which were received from the European Union to initiate a LEADER-programme. It was funded by the ERDF (The European Regional Devel¬opment Fund), the EAGGF (The Guidance Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund) and the ESF (The European Social Fund) accord¬ing to objec¬tive 5B. Through CARREFOURS, a network organisation of the European Union which pro¬vid¬es infor¬mation and documentation about the rural regi¬ons of the European Union, the government of La Rioja became aware of the possi¬bility of receiving finan¬cial assis¬tance from the European Union by present¬ing a working-pro¬gramme to the Ministry of Agricul¬ture in Madrid (1990). The LEADER programme in general aims (Commission of the European Community, 1990-p.07):

- a diversification of agriculture and a specialisation in traditional local agricultural products,

- the protection of nature and the environment by sustaining the tradi¬tional stock-farming and production of "green" products,

- a financial assistance to small-scale and local businesses, not only in the agricul¬tural sector,

- education in all sectors of the economy,

- an improvement of the infrastructure. The econ¬omic problems in this area are the low po¬pula¬tion ¬densi¬ty, the decre¬asing local produc¬tion, the high rate of emi¬gration, the com¬munica¬tion problems, and the restruc¬turing of agri¬cultural production.

The LEADER-programmes throughout Europe focus on the creation of employment by increas¬ing the traditional agricultural production and on the development of tourism within the area. Not all villages have been promoted, only those were selected which have potential economic opportun¬ities by improving the infrastructure and those which are attractive to visitors.

The pro¬gramme does not set up projects, but provides a model of local economic develop¬ment through encou¬raging local people or associ¬ations to start their own activi¬ties and small firms by means of funding and advice, in order to provide a dynamic impulse for the local economy and to diffuse the benefits to form an 'al¬ternative economy' (Gil Cordón, 1993).

2.1 The organisational structure of the LEADER-programme

The programme has been established after approval by the European Union. Therefore, competent development strategies of the national and regional authorities and other organisations were presented to the national government of Spain. After approval, these plans were proposed to the Commission of the European Union which developed measures to implement the strategy according to the objectives of the European Regional Develop¬ment Fund (Commission of the European Community, 1988). Finally, the regional govern¬ment developed an oper¬ational strategy. Also, it had to ensure its implementation. This procedure is based on the Subsidiarity prin¬ciple of the European Union.

Each LEADER-programme has its own organisational structure and strategies. In general, the LEADER-programme aims at a bottom-up approach, the local people are encouraged to partici¬pate in every phase of the programme (Chanan, 1992).

The main committee, consisting of representatives of the European Commission of Investing Partners, regional authorities, unions and departments of the govern¬ment, sets out the strat¬egies and management of special devel¬op¬ment programmes in La Rioja. It also approves and con¬trols the projects assisted by the LEADER programme in La Sierra.

Through the representatives of regional organisations, LEADER has a strong relationship with CARRE¬FOURS and the gov¬ernment of La Rioja. The chair¬man of the European Commission Investing Partners is also the chairperson of the Ministry of Agricul¬ture and Infras¬tructure of the region. At the implementation level there is much consulta¬tion about and co-ordination between the government and LEADER. Also, informal communi¬cation between all levels of the organisation is very important to solve conflicting issues concerning economic develop¬ment.

Three co-ordinators are directly involved with tourism projects at the implementa¬tion level. Their activities can be regarded as the core of the LEADER-programme. They travel around the area and encour¬age local people directly, many of them are older than 50 years of age, to start their own local enterprises. These co-ordinators set up courses, are involved with the develop¬ment of public footpaths, give advice in adminis¬tra¬tion and inves¬tment and guide the initi¬ated develop¬ments. At first the three co-ordinators divided several tasks, but due to difficulties in communication and a lack in infra¬structure they were forced to divide the regions into three areas of devel¬opment, working closely together in undertaking similar activities.

2.2 Sustainable Tourism Development in La Sierra

The main objective of the European Union and the tourism de¬partment in La Rioja (Consejería del Turis¬mo) is to manage tourists in a bal¬anced and sustainable way in order to improve the economy and social life in La Rioja, while preserving the cultural heritage and the natural environment. This goal is reflected in the strategies of the LEADER-pro¬gramme in La Sierra. Tourism projects are integra¬ted into the local econ¬omies; they focus upon envi¬ronmental conser¬vation projects and invol¬ve local resi¬dents.

The govern¬ment of La Rioja considered three different strategies in order to develop tourism in La Sierra: by improving its posi¬tion on the tourism market, by developing sustainable tourism to improve the economic sector and social life, and by preserving the natural environment and cultural heritage of the area. Therefore, five types of tourist attractions were con¬sidered as prime objectives in stimu¬lating sustainable tourism in La Sierra: wine and gas¬tronomy, palaeontology, cultural and natural heritage, mountain climbing and walking and the natural spas (Gobierno de La Rioja, 1989).

In La Sierra the LEADER-programme has contributed to the development of tourism facil¬ities and attrac¬tions as stated in the White Book of La Rioja of 1989. It has those per¬sons included who have unprof¬itable ente¬rprises and who ther¬efore, can¬not stay in the agricul¬tural sector, or those who have worked in agriculture tem¬porar¬ily. The pro¬gramme does not aim at changing the contemporary agricultural way of produc¬tion. However, measures of the European Union concerning agri¬culture will change production. Therefore, the LEADER-programme's aim is to establish 'model-enterprises' for small-size farmers to diversify their econ¬omic activ¬ities; it does not aim to paternali¬se (Esteb¬an Gil Cor¬dón, LEADER co-ordinator, 1993). In doing this, the programme aims at convinc¬ing the local population of the benefits of tourism. The initiators have to apply for fin¬ancial assi¬stance under the condi¬tion that the LEADER co-ordina¬tors may observe the pro¬ject. There has been some resistance under the older popu¬la¬tion. However, the younger people are interested in starting a busi¬ness in order to be able to live in the area. In addition, the atti¬tude of the mayor of a municipality seemed to have a major influence on the initiation of tourism projects.

The LEADER-com¬mittee sees tour¬ism deve¬lop¬ment not as the only way to suc¬cess. It recognises the potentials of some areas benefitting from visitors, but it also accepts the fact that there are regions where no tourism deve¬lop¬ment is possible. There¬fore, an eva¬lu¬ation of 'alter¬native', green and cul¬tural pro¬ducts is con¬side¬red to be import¬ant to the local economies in the future.

The first activities of the Leader-programme have been to establish short courses, in order to establish a network of guides that can accompany groups of tourists and to educate rural people in palaeontology and environmental issues in group-management. Also, there was a lot of interest for technical courses in Human Resource Management, business-administration and business-management. Another initiative of the LEADER-programme, to promote tourism in La Sierra, resulted in a video about the "route of the Dinos¬au¬rs" which had been produced in collaboration with the asso¬ci¬a¬tion:"A¬migos de Munilla". Furthermore, the LEADER-programme has supported initiati¬ves in accommo¬dation facilities within this area. The estab¬lish¬ment of a network of walking ¬routes called "Sier¬ras de la Rioja" in partnership with GR-93 has been created. In Enciso and the area around a holiday inn, Visitor Informati¬on Centre, restaurants and countryside visitor accommoda¬tions were funded (Fernandez Nantes, 1992; Izco, 1993). These 'model-activ¬ities' have been very successful and more facilities have been developed to provide alter¬native recreation possibil¬ities for the local people and to increase the number of tourism attractions for visi¬tors.

La Rioja as a whole is promoted by the government. However, the LEADER-programme provides information about the projects and new at¬trac¬tions solely in La Sierra by mailing to several businesses in the major cities of Spain. They organise tourist packages in order to diversify the tourist-product of La Sierra and to extend the tour¬ist season. In the strategies of the LEADER-programme no segmentation of tourists have been made, but in future certain groups of tourists will be promoted in order not to create an oversupply of tourists in the tourist season.

The LEADER-pro¬gramme runs up to the summer of 1994, but in only three years it has been successful in encouraging, in educating and funding individ¬ual projects and local associ¬ations. Therefore, a LEADER-II-programme has been established, which will con¬tinue the acti¬vities of LEADER-I. The LEADER-II will fin¬ish, redevel¬op, enlarge and stimu¬late the projects started under LEADER-I. With¬out a basic fund¬ing from the ERDF many b¬usi¬nesses and organisations would not be able to continue during the years to come.

Accord¬ing to a new strategy pro¬posal as stated in the Green Book of Rural Devel¬opment, LEADER-II will start from¬ the same broad vision, in an attempt to encou¬rage more people and associ¬ations to initi¬ate pro¬jects benefitting the environ¬ment and the partici¬pation of the local population. It will also focus more on 'green' prod¬ucts that are locally produced. Fur¬thermore, it will develop an impact study to measure the economic and tourism impacts on the environment; this can stimulate the evaluation of the effects and results of the LEADER-II pro¬gramme (Gil Cor¬dón, 1993).

2.3 The Financial Structure of the LEADER-programme

In total 442 million ECU's are allocated to the 212 Leader-programmes by the Agricul¬tural Structure Funds of the European Union (Chanan, 1992). Subsidies for projects are allocated after a presentation of an overall strat¬egy and manage¬ment plan. The projects need to include the production or activities beneficial to the natural environ¬ment, the participa¬tion of the local population and the guidance and evaluation by the LEADER co-ordinators. The LEADER-programme, together with the government of La Rioja and local authorities, fund individual enterprises, but if the project has not been started within one year the money has to be returned.

1993 has been a "pilot-year" for the programme in which many activ¬ities have been pro¬moted on an experimental basis. In the following years evaluation procedures will identify which activities will be con¬tinued.

3 The North Pennines Tourism Partnership

After the designation of the North Pennines as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988, a full strategic tourism development plan was developed with the aim not only to increase the number of visitors to the North Pennines region, but also to encourage them to stay longer. The North Pennines Consultative Group and the existing tourism strategies set the context for a new tourism initiative. As a result of a seminar in the spring of 1989, the English Tourist Board (ETB), the Rural Development Commission, the Countryside Commission and the local authorities initiated the North Pennines partnership (English Tourist Board, 1992). Initially, the rural population was sceptical about the designation of the AONB and it took more than ten years to persuade the public that the designation would benefit the local economy in the long term (Countryside Commission, AONB policy, 1990-a).

Before the North Pennines Tourism Partnership was established a marketing and manage¬ment study had been completed in order to develop regional planning strategies and policies. Obviously, no direct measures where established in relation to conservation. Through the desig¬nation of an AONB the Countryside Commission became directly involved by appointing an AONB officer and the partnership started to sensitively promote and to guide tourism in the North Pennines. Also, the Countryside Commission and the Rural Development Commission participated in the activities of the partnership although to a lesser degree. From 1989 onwards the aims of the Countryside Commission have been primarily to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the land¬scape and secon¬dly: a) to meet the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside; b) to have regard for the interests of those who live and work there (Countryside Commission AONB regulati¬ons, 1989). Mass tourism is not regarded as appropriate; it has negative impacts on the rural economy and may undermine the unique quality of the area (Countryside Commission, 1990-b).

3.1 The Organisational Structure of the North Pennines Tourism Partnership

To develop a coherent strategic plan in order to promote tourism activities for a region that includes three councils and six districts is quite complicated. There are a multiplic¬ity of agencies within the North Pennines region and all of them have other responsibilities besides tourism. Therefore, the tourism partnership has played a major role in managing tourism development successfully (English Tourist Board, 1991).

The organisational structure of the tourism partnership is quite simple. It is vertical and con¬sists of three levels: the North Pennines committee, the management team and the working groups. Informal communication proved to be very important when conflict¬ing issues between representatives appear.

The North Pennines committee forms the full partnership, comprising of local authorities, the Regional Tourist Boards, the Countryside Commission, the Rural Develop¬ment Commission and representatives of the voluntary and private sectors in the region. The Regional Tourist Boards, the Countryside Commission and the Rural Development Commission delegate representatives to the meetings, which take place twice a year. The private and voluntary sector nominates up to eight individuals annually from as wide as a range of geographical and sectoral interests as possible. The committee approves or disapproves the working programmes in which budget, actions, priorities, future strategies, are stated. The decisions are more concerned with policy matters than with detailed practicalities.

The management team consists of the tourism partnership officer, representatives of the Regional Tourist Boards, the Rural Development Commission and the Countryside Commission. Its task is to prepare proposals for the Partnership Committee's consider¬ation, to co-ordinate the operation of the working groups, to oversee the implementation of partnership decisions and to guide the partnership officer. In the meetings of the manage¬ment team conflicts and strategies are discussed with the aim of consolidating any conflicts between the representatives of the different interest groups. Between the members, which are representatives of different organisations, agreement is sought.

Within the partnership the tourism officer's role is to co-ordinate meetings and initiate projects. Furthermore, the officer is an import¬ant intermediary between the management and implementation level. The action programmes and budgeting are major responsi¬bilities and therefore the officer is very much involved with the implementation issues in the working groups. This person keeps in contact with local enterprises and is involved in other pro¬jects and local organisations.

There are two working groups, the Marketing Group and the Development Group which consist of expert members of the private and the public sector, and voluntary groups. The Development Group identifies small schemes of proposals that are beneficial to the industry, rather than providing capital incentives to individuals. Possible working areas are, business training subsidies, signing and interpretation, feasibility studies and market research. The Marketing Group is mainly responsible for publicity and promotion actions of tourism projects within the area.

Members, mostly women, volun¬teer to join the working groups but at the time of writing only the major business entrepreneurs were represented. Their tasks include drawing up detailed work programmes, budgeting and implementing decisions taken on such pro¬grammes with an agreed timescale. The working groups are the vehicle for the partnership, they are committed and involved with local businesses, which are not necessarily directly involved in tourism development. In the working groups possible conflicts with organisations, local people or environmental issues can be solved.

3.2 Sustainable Tourism Development in the North Pennines

Recreation and tourism have not been the primary reasons for designation of the North Pennines as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but it has been pursued in those areas where it can be compat¬ible with conservation and the needs of agriculture, forestry and other uses. In addition the Countryside Commission sees its major task as one of protect¬ing the quality of the typical English landscape and to increase the accessibility. Access to the country¬side for tourists and residents has been one of the major programmes of the Countryside Commission over recent years (Countryside Commission, 1990-ab). In these pro¬grammes awareness of the residents to conserve and enhance their regional environ¬ment and the provision of information to tourists is of considerable importance. Therefore, through the partner¬ship the Countryside Commis¬sion has had a direct influence in the planning and manage¬ment of the envi¬ronment as a resource input for tourism.

To control projects in the countryside the Countryside Commis¬sion acts to evaluate the projects in order to establish whether the conditions of grant-aid, set by the Commis¬sion, have been followed. At the time of research there was a project in consideration to have a Green Audit for the North Pennines Partnership. Its purpose is to evaluate, through desk-research by an independent group of experts, the partnership's activities in environ¬mental, econ¬omic and social terms. As this implies, the partnership aims at achieving 'green' or sustainable tourism. In May 1992, through the Secretary of State for Employment's Tourism and Environ¬mental Task Force, seven principles to achieve sustainable develop¬ment were stated. They form the basic idea underlying the activities that are implemented and future strategies that are being established (Brantom, 1993):

1. The environment has an intrinsic value which outweighs its value as a tourism asset. Its enjoyment by future generations and its long term survival must not been prejudiced by short term considerations.

2. Tourism should be recognised as a positive activity with the potential to benefit the community and the place as well as the visitor.

3. The relationship between tourism and the environment must be managed so that it is sustainable in the long term. Tourism must not be allowed to damage the resource, prejudice its future enjoyment or bring unacceptable impacts.

4. Tourism activities and developments should respect the scale, nature and character of the place in which they are sited.

5. In any location, harmony must be sought between the needs of the visitor, the place and the host community.

6. In a dynamic world some change is inevitable and change can often be beneficial. Adaption to change, however, should not be at the expense of any of these principles.

7. The tourism industry, local authorities and environmental agencies all have a duty to respect the above principles and to work together to achieve their practical realisation.

The tourism partnership provides information for individuals and businesses involved in tourism and covers areas such as access to expertise business advice, marketing, research statistics, viability of new projects, planning, photo-library, local contacts and in depth knowledge of the tourism market in the North Pennines (Roger, Tym & Partners, 1988). Therefore, the tourism partnership is directly involved in research regarding visitors which is being con¬ducted every two years. Also, the tourism partnership stimu¬lates rather than subsidizes local projects that again can be considered as small partner¬ships of the public sector (English Tourist Board, 1992; Countryside Commission, 1990-a). The aim of the partner¬ship therefore is to establish co-operative structures between various groups and operators rather than to produce a real impact for two to three years.

In 1990 the tourism partnership launched several projects mostly aimed at improving the quality of the service of local tourism business and to co-ordinate local initiat¬ives, in particular accommodation. A tourism training and recruitment co-ordinator was appointed to organise training for local business people.

The Youth Hostel Association and the partnership tried to initi¬ate and co-ordinate camping barns (in old parts of the farm) on farms and estates in 1991. Also, a Farm Holiday Bureau, which is a network bureau of farming families, is promoted by the Tourism Partnership. The Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope was one of the projects promoted to encour¬age exhibitions and sales of local arts and crafts, to provide information about management of tourism enterprises, to estab¬lish a tourist information office and to promote art-courses for residents.

In addition, the partnership provides information packages about the region for visitors, develops several walking programmes and stimulates a public transport partner¬ship scheme to encourage public transportation within the region. Moreover, the partner¬ship endorses green products of the local tourism enterprises. It introduced a 'Green Tourism Award' based around the principles for 'green' tourism development as stated in the "Main¬taining the Balance" report of the English Tourist Board and the Employment Department Group (English Tourist Board, 1991).

3.3 Financial Resources to Develop Sustainable Tourism in the North Pennines

The most important funding source in developing tourism in rural regions for public and private organisations in England is the Rural Development Commission together with the Coun¬tryside Commis¬sion. The Rural Development Commission in gen¬eral provides one-third of the core funding for projects up to 50,000 pounds. It also gives grants for local tourism develop¬ment and funds for encouraging innovation and for small and medium business develop¬ment. In landscape conservation schemes the County Council can provide financial and technical assist¬ance. The AONB officer of the Countryside Commis¬sion is the adviser as to receive the most appropriate source of grant, whether from the Country¬side Commis¬sion or the Rural Develop¬ment Commission (Countryside Commission, 1990-b).

The partnership is not involved in applying for grant-aid from the European Union. However, small parts of the North Pennines region are eligible for Union funding by TAWSEN in Northumberland and IDOP (Integrated Development Operations Programmes) in Durham and Cleveland, under Objective 2 of the European Regional Development Fund. TAWSEN is a part¬nership, established in 1989 between the European Union, the United Kingdom Government, local author¬ities and a wide range of academic, training, voluntary, busi¬ness and service organisations. The improve¬ment of the infrastructure and communica¬tion has the highest priority together with training and education courses. Also, much emphasis is given to the development of small and medium size enterprises and tourism facilities, and to a lesser degree to improve the attract¬ive¬ness of the landscape and promotion activities (Tawsen, 1993). In Durham and Cleveland, Union funding is available by the Integrated Development Operations Pro¬gramme with one of the projects funded in the North Pennines region being the Durham Dales Centre and a number of training programmes (Durham and Cleveland Integrated Development Operations Programme, 1992).

The partnership was subsidized until April 1994. After this period the financial resources will be reconsidered for future activ¬ities. Without funding from the European Tourist Board and the Country¬side Commission the partnership would not have been able to exist. There is not sufficient local recognition by local businesses to support the partner¬ship completely, and in order to undertake major initial investments (advertising), public funding is vital. Further¬more, most enterprises are relatively small and their financial resources are not large enough to support the partnership complete¬ly.

4 Barriers in Implementing Sustainable Tourism Strategies

Both development programmes displayed similar objectives and strategies. However, the concept of sustainability was percepted differently. In La Sierra increased tourism activity was regarded as a part of the development of a healthy rural economy, whereas in the North Pennines tourism was developed in a more environmentally sensitive way. In the English case the environmental issues were regarded as most important, as a consequence of direct involvement of an AONB-officer of the Countryside Commission. In La Sierra the improvement of the infrastructure, communication and basic needs were primary objectives as stated in the regional policy of the European Union. However, it must be recognised that there are many differences in landscape, including, the climate, economical posi¬tion of the region, financial structu¬re, the cultural and natural heritage and the differing needs of the tourists, which will result in very diffe¬rent implementation strat¬egies.

In the implementation of the strategies of sustainable tourism in both regions many barriers and obstacles were present. Problems that can be categorized in organiz¬ational, social, political, ecological and financial issues.

4.1 Organisational and Political Barriers

Problems in communication have occurred in both regions. In La Sierra due to difficulties in communication networks and infrastructure. In the North Pennines regions due to the different regulation systems in the three counties and six districts. Conflicts between the parties involved in tourism issues are being solved through meetings of the partnerships, informal communication, overlapping partnerships and especially in the North Pennines through the Working Programmes in which local interest parties, not always in tourism, are confronted. Participation in local projects is on a voluntary base. Therefore, resistance of local organisations which have no direct interest can cause problems in initiating tourism projects. The LEADER programme in La Sierra does not have working groups at the lowest level. Therefore, conflicts are directly discussed among the develop¬ment agents and the committee.

The LEADER-programme, unlike the North Pennines region, does not have a major national organisation such as the Countryside Commission. Union assistance, therefore, can provide a certain basic organisational structure which is necessary to manage tourism development successfully. To achieve this, the European Union can play an important role in setting up local (policy) structures through partnerships for the long term. However, it must be stated that existing local organizations can work against tourism projects. In the North Pennines case for example the Landowner Association has great influence over local policy-making with regard to, for example, grouse-shooting (Wilson, 1992).

4.2 Social barriers

Before both tourism development projects were initiated, the local population was alarmed at the ways in which the traditional agricultural economy would change. The first activities of the programmes were to convince local authorities and organisations of the benefits of sustainable tourism development for the rural community. Also, the training programmes and direct involvement of the development agents in the management of local (partnership) projects awareness of the possibilities tourism can contribute to mutual understanding. Tourism development is seen as an economic stimulant for society. However, to achieve an alternative green economy more emphasis on local participation and education must be given.

To which amount tourism projects are initiated, depends on the attitude of the local authorities. In La Sierra the opinion of the Major is very important in developing projects. Also, in these regions mostly older people live, not always being interested in tourism profits. This needs more involvement of the development agents and education than the younger population that enthusiastic start projects in order to find an (alternative) economic activity within the region, which means that in the end emigration numbers are halted.

4.3 Ecological barriers

Both sustainable tourism development programmes have carefully selected areas where a certain type of tourism is being promoted and tourism projects are initiated. In both areas mass tourism is not regarded as an appropriate solution. However, only an evaluation procedure will demonstrate to which extent the activities have an impact on nature, landscape, cultural heritage and social life. In La Sierra, the LEADER-programme is developing an evaluation and monitoring program to estimate the real environmental and cultural impact of the tourist activities and projects that have been established over the previous years. In the North Pennines the Countryside Commission is developing an independent research body to evaluate the activities initiated by the North-Pennines tourism partnership. This may especially be relevant as measures have been taken to control the number of tourists in the future while the first phase of the development pro¬grammes is to attract as many tourists as possible. Moreover, what will happen when funding of environmentally sensitive projects ends and the partnerships have finished their guiding role? Economic issues still dominate the strategies which emphasise sustainable tourism development in both regions.

4.4 Financial barriers

The LEADER-programme in La Sierra has direct funding from the European Union to allocate among the initiated projects. Depending upon the contribution of the regional authority additional funding is contributed to various extends.

The North Pennines tourism partnership only advices in funding with most grants coming from the Countryside Commission, the Rural Development Commission or the local government. As unlike in the Spanish case, almost half of the financial resources are provided by the private sector. Some Union funding has been allocated under Objective 2 to set up courses in business-management and farm holiday accommodation facilities.

The European Union increases funding in La Sierra only after a financial contribu¬tion of the local author¬ities to projects and small medium sized enterprises. Sustainable develop¬ment funding is only allocated to projects that preserve or enhance the natural or cultural environment. Projects or enterprises that produce traditional and environmental benefits (e.g. green products), goods or local craftswork and artisans are also promoted. The extend of funding is based on a detailed management plan.

Capital investment is crucial for those regions that are in an economic downstream development. It can provide a basis for the development of further economic activities and when this is managed successfully a healthy alternative economy can be realised. Funding is necess¬ary, in particular, for the establishment of local and medium sized enterprises. However, it must be recognised that in the strategies of both regions developing tourism is not regarded as the only key to success. While encouraging the traditional way of production and traditional art, other economic activities are crucial to create a sustainable and alternative economy which does not over-use natural resources and which in the end may even become another input factor as a tourist attraction.

Both development programmes will receive funding until the end of 1994. However it is almost certain that the programmes will be continued. Regional tourism development in harmony with other regional activities, partnerships and the direct involvement in projects and additional funding have demonstrated to be successful in sustainable tourism develop¬ment.

5 Conclusions

From the previous analysis some conclusions can be drawn:

* Without the establish¬ment of co-ordinating partner¬ships and basic financial resources sustainable tourism develop¬ment can not be successful, as has been demonstrated in the two develop¬ment programmes presented in this study. In England the tourism partnership works successfully through the well institutionalised local structures and national funding organisations such as the Countryside Commission and the Rural Development Commis¬sion, while in La Rioja, which has autonomy with regards to policy issues, no (national) organisations exist.

* With regards to the tourism market rural regions will benefit from the increased demand throughout Europe. However, the tourism market rapidly changes. It is obvious that in the short term the rural economies will benefit from tourism development but without clearly set objectives, resource management, market segmentation, financial resources, a strong developed organisation structure and a constant evaluation of resources the path towards sustainability will only take a few steps.

* It is not clear what the relationship is between the supply and demand of sustainable tourism. In other words: There are many depopulated areas in Europe suffering from a lack of regional resources. Only in a limited number of these regions tourism is a real option. How high is the level of demand on sustainable tourism related to this more or less fixed level of supply?

* Which type of economic development is feasible for those depopulated areas in which a touristic development - may it sustainable or not - cannot be seen as a real option? When sustainable development is taken as a guideline for all economic and environmental policies, which alternatives can be formulated for those regions?

* Is it possible to influence significantly the demand of people on sustainable tourism? The demand on sustainable tourism is concentrated in the urbanised European regions. What is the relationship between the living conditions in these areas and the demand on sustainable tourism?

* It is not clear what sustainable tourism is. In La Sierra and the North Pennines there is a general idea that the development of the last decades cannot be evaluated as sustainable, which leads to the conclusion that 'something' has to be changed. However, what are the criteria which can be used as a test for sustainable tourism?

* Funds from outside the region are relevant to start any form of sustainable tourism. It is not clear whether these funds are necessary in the long run. This point may be relevant as many functions of the ecosystems in remote areas such as watershed protection, the production of oxygen by green plants, and the presence of rare plants and animals are of national and international importance. The outside regions do not pay the rural areas for these functions of the ecosystems in the rural areas. This implies that the level of social costs and benefits related to this topic are not clear.



Get Better Grades Today

Join Essays24.com and get instant access to over 60,000+ Papers and Essays

closeLogin
Please enter your username and password
Username:
Password:
Forgot your password?