Reimaging ‘rural’

‘It is the visible and real world in its primitiveness and strength that is the natural subject of the thinking mind, and is able more easily than anything else to rouse it.’ Arthur Schopenhauer

Many rural areas suffer from depopulation due to the fast migration to urban areas that has taken place very rapidily in western countries over the last decades. Often, people in cities have lost part of their own identity and connection to their culture or traditions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind the interest in rural tourism as a way to reconnect with the real world and with oneself.

Of course rural tourism still a niche option; other type of tourism such as sun and beach continues to be the most common summer holiday for most of holidaymakers.

Although the traditional obstacles and limitations of rural areas remain in many people’s mind, such as the isolation, poor infrastructure, difficult access to technology and internent, there are not anymore such a barrier in many rural areas, particularly in Europe.

Nowadays you can enjoy the summer break in a rural spot while reading your favourite newspaper online or checking your emails (the entrepreur life!) without much difficulty. At the same time you can reconnect with nature (hiking, horseriding, cycling, etc.) and with the seasons: from the shining green of the trees in the forest, to bird watching or the yellow wheatfields ready to be harvested; and develop your creative skills (painting and photography and crafts, for example). And, more importantly, you can exchange life experiences with local inhabitants and (re)discover traditions and the wisdom of living a sustainable life.

Rural tourism provides also benefits to rural areas such as:

  • economic growth, economic diversification and stabilization,
  • employement creation
  • reducing out migration and contributing to re-population
  • protection and improvement of both the natural and built environtment
  • revitalizing traditions and cultual heritage
  • increasing recognition of rural priorities and potential by policy makers

The essential task by rural tourism boards, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in rural areas is to change the perception that still remains in many people’s mind identifying ‘rural’ with ‘undeveloped’ places lacking of ‘things to do’ or ‘boring’. They have to develop a dynamic dialogue with urban audiences to reimaging ‘rural’ and the meanings of ‘rural life’ in a contemporary way; without forgetting that rural areas have always insipired thinkers, writers and painters such as Van Gogh or Brueggel; they are a source of inspiration and as Schopenhauer points out, nothing can harness more creativity than contemplating nature itself.

Applying audience development and creative storytelling to rural areas destination marketing provides unlimited opportunities to build narratives to reimaging rural with the active participation of both local inhabitants and tourists through online and offline actions.

This exchange will benefit both ‘city’ and ‘rural’ people and will set the ground to new projects fostering the social, cultural and economic integration of the territories.

I am leaving you now, I am off to my bike ride! Wishing you a great summer holidays!

Get in touch for master plan strategies and capacity building workshops on tourism audience development, storytelling and destination marketing


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