Several studies have pointed to tourism as a tool for economic development and a means for keeping the population in rural areas. Typically areas suffering from decline in agriculture and general socio-economic trends. The general view seems to be that, many rural areas are inevitably moving towards a post-productive state, and that a possible adaption is diversification of economic activity and “multifunctional land use”, with tourism and recreation among the functions. In the tourism and rural (sociology) literature, the community perspective has been dominant, along with a focus on innovation, i.e. development of new tourism products, preferably based on natural, human and social resources found within the rural district. However, in an ongoing study, carried out for the Danish Food Industry Agency, we shift focus (back) towards the development potential for farms wanting to diversify their business, and their possibilities for economic support and, just as important, advice from the agricultural associations’ consultancy structure as well as from national and regional tourism development bodies, and possibly networks for rural/farm/green tourism operators. We do this assuming that a number of barriers and structural shortcomings exist that must be overcome before the full potential of rural tourism in Denmark can be realized. There assumptions are being tested through collection and analysis of relevant statistical data, interviews with experts at national and regional level and with stakeholders in tourism and rural development at municipal and local level. Cases demonstrating successful moves into farm-based tourism are also collected. We propose a stronger emphasis on entrepreneurship and on the links between the individual farm and their professional networks, and expect to be able to point out specific policy actions and areas where support should be focused.
Proceedings.19th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research, 2010