PARTICULARITIES, SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES OF RURAL AND URBAN TOURISM

The urban domain is usually considered an axis of tourist activity. Due to its wide variety of offers and its accessible character, big cities reach to profile themselves as true touristic centers, as such constituting the base of the economic impulse of the country, of which the rural sector tends to be relegated.

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath
Photo by Ibrahim Rifath

In any case, reality is changing and what always seemed attractive may be usual today. Mass products are not a novelty anymore, the increasingly accelerated dynamic of cities can be oppressive, so it’s not strange that more and more tourists include rural destinations in their travel route. It could be said that we’re attending a “return to the natural”, due to which today the traditional and authentic acquires positive connotations.

It should be mentioned that the rural area is, essentially, composed by two main elements: its characteristic landscapes and the agricultural production. The combination of these is what really gives it a distinctive richness, which makes it worthy of becoming a tourist attraction.

The UNWTO defines Rural Tourism as “tourism activities that take place in the rural space and that have the purpose of interacting with rural life, getting to know the traditions and the lifestyle of the people and the attractions of the zone”

Talking about Rural and Urban Tourism, however, does not mean segmenting this activity in accordance with the localization on the map to the point of dissociating one from another and generating the idea of two parallel phenomena; who says that both realities – urban and rural – can’t be combined, expanding the scope of tourism to the entire territory?

Photo by Matthew Foulds
Photo by Matthew Foulds

Capturing the particularities of each zone and exploit them so that they can be constituted in profitable and unique offers complementary to each other should be the leitmotiv of the economic strategy of a country.

Sergio Boisier, expert in territorial development, introduces the concept of “synergetic capital” to refer to: “societal capacity of promoting joint actions directed to collective and democratically accepted purposes to obtain the revaluation of local resources as a product that is more than the sum of its components”.

The first thing that needs to be done is to delimit which are the elements that represent the value of the territory, in accordance with the representatives of each area with the purpose of later effectuating a fusion of them, giving place to an integral development of the economic, social and cultural system.

In this way the tourist can enjoy vacations in a rural establishment which on one hand counts with a comfort level similar to that one would find in a more industrialized area but at the same time easily allows to establish contact with nature and typical local folklore.

Vice versa, the tourist can taste a good gastronomical offer, elaborated and served in a prestigious urban restaurant but with products come from the countryside.

In other words, the rural sector can provide its own high quality raw materials for the urban sector and the urban sector can give the rural sector the adequate products and services to position itself within the modern world without losing its ingrained cultural identity for this.

Tourist attractions in the rural zone:

  • Stays in establishments clearly identified with the cultural and historical identity of the zone, often called country houses.
  • Contact with nature, calmness and quietude.
  • Participation in gastronomical experiences, in some territories identified with “”agricultural production – from the land to the plate – cuisine of typical dishes that are made directly in the place where the products were obtained”
  • Wineries – sale of artisanal wines and production of products such as cheese, honey, etc., elaborated in perfect conditions.
  • Routes and guided visits to places that form part of the historical-cultural heritage.
  • Walks that take advantage of nature such as processions, hikes, climbing.
  • Artisanal production – in the area where the sun of modernity shines the least, handicraft abounds; the direct access to certain raw materials like wood, leather and wool allow the ingenious rural individual to create unique products.
  • Popular festivals of the region.

Tourist attractions of the urban zone:

  • Gastronomy – the particularity of the gastronomical phenomenon in the city is given by the possibility of combining local products – generally from the rural sector – with the global culinary innovations and trends. This guarantees its great quality and higher attractiveness.
  • Shopping centers and local shops – allow the tourist to buy both national and imported products.
  • Intense cultural agenda – the visitors can get to know the city through its architecture, museums and variety of spectacles.
  • Factory production – elaboration of own products.
  • Artisanal production – generally with products from the interior of the territory.
  • Routes and guided visits to places that form part of the historical-cultural heritage of the sector.
  • Typical festivals of the region – which are generally more massive and famous than those in the rural area.
  • Disposition of infrastructure and mechanisms to generate contacts with the international sphere – advertising, communication and commerce-.

To summarize, beyond the distinction made between the rural and urban, an optimal development of Tourism is given when the actions and elements of both realities fusion in a cooperative way, thus boosting the economy of a country.

Author: A.S.V (2018)