Rural tourism is one of the directions of development of domestic and inbound tourism, it is a relatively new and promising direction. The development of tourism in rural areas is a socially important type of business that contributes to the sustainable development of rural areas: infrastructure development, improving the quality of life, increasing local incomes, creating jobs, maintaining and maintaining traditions and culture, and preserving the environment.
Today, there is no universal definition of this type of tourist activity, but the definition generally accepted in the world is approximately as follows: rural tourism (agrotourism) is a journey of citizens from a permanent place of residence to rural areas with accommodation in rural guest houses, rural estates and on farms with tourist goals and without engaging in activities related to generating income from sources at the place of temporary residence.
Rural tourism, as a vacation in rural areas, is not only a fad, but, one might say, a necessity – a dynamic and intense rhythm of life in cities, pollution of the urban environment, makes the city dweller want rest and solitude among the pure natural environment. Such a vacation gives a person the opportunity to get closer to nature, to relax, to gain strength, and in addition, it allows to satisfy such specific hobbies as the study of historical, cultural, ethnographic, as well as architectural heritage, customs and crafts characteristic of the region, acquaintance with the local folk clothing, cooking, collecting folklore, learning the local language or dialect, amateur photography, collecting herbs and minerals.
It should be noted that rural tourism can effectively develop and function not everywhere, but only in regions not covered by activities that pollute the environment in such areas as villages and hamlets; small towns with typical traditional architecture, way of life, culture; agricultural farms; forest estate; natural parks and specific protected areas; recreation areas and summer areas; natural phenomena; monasteries and sacred sites; sights of folk culture in the open.
Interest in rural tourism is ubiquitous in the world. A good example of the development of rural tourism can serve such countries as Italy, France, Holland and the UK. In these countries, tourist trips to the countryside already occupy the second place after a sea holiday (which cannot be said about Russia, where sea holidays are still the most preferable).
One of the reasons for the rapid development of rural tourism in Europe is the crisis in the agricultural sector. In the modern era, the process of productivity and automation of agriculture leads to a decrease in jobs. In fact, in many rural regions in Europe, agriculture has ceased to be the most important form of land use and the most important activity of the rural community. The share of communities operating in the agricultural sector in Greece is 30% of their total number, in Portugal – 24, in Spain and Ireland – 17, in Italy – 12, in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK – from 2 to 7%. Consequently, it was necessary to find new activities that would replace or complement agricultural activities. The search for approaches to this task explains the heightened interest in rural tourism, which with rapid development can revive many rural regions. Statistical studies show that 35% of citizens in the EU prefer to leave in rural areas. In Holland, their share is particularly high – 49%. Rural tourism creates new jobs and brings real income to the regions – Italy in Europe ranks first in rural tourism, with an average profit of $ 350 million. Rural tourism also makes it possible to find means and means to conserve nature. In many countries, the development of this type of tourism has become the main focus of the protection and recreation of national rural landscapes – this is how the beautiful alpine meadows of Switzerland, the mills and canals of the Netherlands, the old parks and villas of Italy were saved. Today, using the example of Italy, the EU sees in agritourism a way of saving agriculture in the countries of Western Europe. They are written about in the media: “Rural tourism is now a top model. The people enjoy with might and main, and not only for the summer, but also for Christmas, Easter, etc. The old houses are being converted just for such holidaymakers. Pampered tourists are ready to accept any conditions .”
The growing popularity of rural tourism has led many English farmers to organize themselves in order to offer more diverse services in their homes. Rural tourism in England is becoming more attractive also because it offers extremely affordable prices and special discounts for children. In the south-west of England, old farmhouses are being restored for tourist purposes, they are luxuriously equipped, with heating, household appliances, televisions and partly preserved old furnishings, and they enjoy great success with tourists. In Ireland, rural estates are subject to mandatory certification and receive “stars” as hotels, the walls of their houses are decorated with the appropriate number of green leaves. Find “green housing” help special indexes, directories, catalogs.
In Hungary, a host who takes a rest, incomes from 10 beds are not taxed; in Romania, the question of exempting such owners from taxes for 15 years is being considered; in Austria, the peasants who are engaged in the reception of guests, have tax privileges for the past 40 years; Poland does not tax income from providing tourists with a maximum of 5 rooms for accommodation and meals.
In Germany in the early 1980s. The concept of a tourism mechanism in peripheral regions was developed. Its main goal is to offer cheap outdoor recreation in the tourist market, without using expensive infrastructure and providing comfortable living conditions.
In Italy, there is growing interest in staying in monasteries or monasteries or Pestalnitsky monasteries, near which there are special hotels. Illustrative example of a monastery near Siena, where the hotel is served by Augustinian nuns. The daily routine of tourists is associated with the sun: tourists get up at dawn, go to the morning service, work in the monastery garden. Life flows slowly, calmly, in a rural way.
The success of France in supplying a specific product such as recreation in the countryside — of the 37 million foreign tourists who visit the country every year — about 7 million are indisputable. give priority to just relaxing in the village.
Rural tourism is one of the important directions in the development of the village, because it is an alternative to its industrialization and a means of keeping the population in industrially underdeveloped regions. In the West, two types of rural green tourism have emerged – “mixed” and “pure”. The first is based on peasant (farm) farms that grow livestock and vegetables and additionally receive tourists. This gives approximately 25% of the profits to the farming family. Moreover, most of these funds are reinvested in home improvement, interior renovation, creating conditions for guests. The second is exclusively the activity of serving tourists, providing them with hotel services in houses that serve as mini-hotels.
It should also be noted that, from a functional point of view, rural tourism is closely related to other types of tourism, primarily recreational, cultural, specialized types of tourism – skiing, hunting, fishing, religious, etc. All this allows rural tourism to be included in the combined tours that multiplies the demand for a traditional tourist product.
The main factors behind the success of agro-tourism in Europe are the political support of agro-tourism from national states and the European Union, since agrotourism was initially viewed as a social cushion in restructuring the agrarian sector of the economy, allowing for the creation of new jobs in rural areas. In a number of countries, there are special agrotourism laws, which greatly contributed to the development of this sector of the tourism industry, or special state programs to support agro-tourism and the organization of this type of activity are being implemented.
In Europe, at the international level, common, internationally recognized approaches to quality standards and special guidance guidelines for the classification and standardization of accommodation facilities and services in the field of agro-tourism (rural tourism) are being developed. Moreover, this work is carried out not within the framework of state or supranational agencies (national ministries or EU directorates), but within the framework of EU international programs with the most active participation of associations of agro-tourism actors (eg EUROGITES European Federation of Farm and Rural Tourism, ECEAT). agritourism, etc.)
Another important factor in the successful development of the agro-tourism sector was the fact that the agro-tourism product met the demands of a new consumer with average incomes, which constitutes the largest segment of effective demand. In addition, it should be noted that the microeconomic model of agritourism has been very effective. Compared to other sectors of the tourism industry, the production of tourist products looks extremely low-cost, which means that agritourism could compete in terms of price-quality ratio with other tourist products. With regard to the prospects for the development of rural tourism, according to expert estimates, the average indicator of the potential is 55.8%. Such a high figure shows that more than half of the country’s landscape-geographical and climatic resources can be used to develop various tourist destinations taking into account the needs of tourists (for comparison, Turkey has a tourist potential of 38.4, Greece – 35, Italy – 49, France, Spain and Germany – slightly more than 50%). Thus, Russia is a very promising country for the integrated development of tourism.
Today, “rural tourism” in Russia is the recreation of citizens in rural areas in guest houses (“mini-hotels”) created by a rural family on the basis of their own residential house and garden. Since the mid-90s, this model has been implemented in many regions of Russia from the Kaliningrad region to Yakutia. The network of guest houses is developed in the Altai Territory and on Lake Baikal, in the Krasnodar Territory and in Karelia, in Yakutia, in the Kaliningrad, Moscow and Leningrad regions. In North Karelia, where there are a lot of forest lakes, rural type tourism is spread in small cottages for one family of 2 to 8 people. The houses are equipped with all the necessary adequately cost. Usually they consist of a living room and several bedrooms. The cottages have hot and cold water, a small kitchen equipped with necessary appliances. Most cottages have fireplaces, saunas. Tourists are provided with rental boats, fishing equipment, ski equipment. All this allows in quite comfortable conditions, but at the same time actively relax in nature.
Unfortunately, despite the real examples in the Russian Federation of organizing agro-tourism activities, it should be stated that there is practically no regulatory framework specifically governing agrotourism activities as such:
- In the existing federal regulatory legal acts regulating activities in the field of tourism, and federal program documents in the field of tourism, there is no mention of the concept of “agro-tourism” (rural tourism, “green” tourism, “eco-agritourism”, “farmer tourism” or other terms used in our country and international practice to refer to the type of tourism activity under consideration);
- Special federal legislation regulating agrotourism in the Russian Federation is not yet available;
- There are no standards and regulations applicable in the field of agro-tourism as a specific sector of the tourism industry and – at the same time – an additional (non-agricultural, non-productive, alternative) form of income for the rural population. It should be particularly emphasized that the standards and regulations in force in the Russian Federation in the field of hotel and recreational business cannot be mechanically transferred to the small family hotel business sector in the countryside due to the specifics of the latter;
- The mention of agro-tourism in the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of August 2, 2011 No. 644 “On the federal target program “Development of domestic and inbound tourism in the Russian Federation (2011–2018) ”as one of the supported types of non-agricultural activities in rural areas, unfortunately , has not yet received development in the form of a developed system of concepts and norms.
It is worth noting that the lack of a regulatory framework is not the only problem in the organization of rural tourism:
– insufficiently developed infrastructure or its complete absence in a number of rural areas;
– lack of awareness of rural residents about the possibilities of developing rural tourism;
– low resource security of villagers who want to organize rural tourism;
– a critical reduction in the number of able-bodied rural population;
– carriers of culture or at least its individual surviving elements (lack of jobs in the countryside, drunkenness, outflow of youth);
– lack of guarantees for the safety of tourists;
– lack of qualified personnel for the organization of rural tourism;
– lack of state non-commercial advertising;
– lack of cooperation between all participants in the development process;
– lack of a unified national program and financial support for the development of rural tourism.
To solve the existing problems, proceeding from the global practical experience, in our opinion, the following areas (models) attributable to eco-agrotourism could be promising in Russia.
- Creation of regional agrotourist networks through the development of small, family and individual businesses on the basis of existing tourist resources in rural areas: accommodation facilities (small family hotel facilities) and infrastructure (including various objects and types of business related to the provision of agrotourism). The organization of an efficiently operating network of private agrotourism farms in the territory of the region implies the creation of a system of state support at the center level or at least at the regional level.
- Recreation of the socio-cultural environment of the historical settlement – “historical village”, “national village”, nobility and merchant estates, monasteries, etc.
- Creation of large and medium-sized specialized agro-tourist facilities, aimed at receiving tourists and organizing their valuable rest, for example, cultural and historical complexes.
- Creation of state and private agricultural parks as large multifunctional tourist, exhibition, advertising and expositional, cultural, propaganda, research and production and similar complexes with accommodation facilities and appropriate infrastructure.
All of the above models could be implemented in the Russian Federation when a number of key conditions specific to each of them are fulfilled.
The system of these conditions and priority models should be designated by the national concept of agrotourism development in Russia. If 10-15 years ago, emphasis was placed on creating guest networks, and the state did not provide system support, there were no necessary conditions for the normal functioning of this type of business, now the interest of large investors is directed to other forms of agrotourism, primarily large privately owned agro-tourism facilities.
Such objects are cultural and historical theme parks, ethnocultural complexes, etc. The implementation of such projects has not only economic benefits, but is able to solve a number of pressing social problems. It is necessary to clearly realize that today’s generation no longer wants to associate itself with the Russian state, the concepts of people and state in our country are no longer identical, the concept of patriotism loses its meaning, young people break away from their culture, stretch to the culture of the West, lose interest in their own history. The current state of the village, to put it mildly, is pitiable. A part of the working-age population leaves their native places, the rest simply drink. Solving all of the above problems requires political support from the authorities – at least at the regional level, this, as the experience of the West shows, will be enough to launch a market mechanism in the agro-tourism sector – the construction of cultural and historical complexes can be a driving force in the development of rural tourism in the regions.
However, all these problems are certainly more literate, easier and more likely to be solved if there is political support from the center – the relevant state program (subprogram of agrotourism development as a “point of growth” of the Russian province), which implies the corresponding legal and financial support:
– The state concept of rural tourism development and the village support program;
– state system of preferential crediting or even subsidizing tourism facilities at the initial stage;
– government programs for improving the macro-infrastructure of tourism, financing the infrastructure of rural areas (primarily, roads, electricity and water supply, telephone, Internet);
– creation of a public or state association uniting rural tourism entities (functions: advising those who wish to engage in agrotourism on all issues; registration; organizing microcredit channels for agrotourist facilities; organizing primary information support — cartographic, etc.; organizing advertising and marketing activities in the agrotourism sector ; transfer of the tourism product into an information form; certification in perspective), financing of the programs of the required professional flax training (retraining);
– promotion of the tourist product to the market (formation of large-scale interactive databases on the basis of these associations, which in fact create an arbitrarily wide market for local tourist products in the information form), an active promotional campaign.
The development of rural tourism, the implementation of large-scale cultural projects will have a serious social and economic importance and a positive effect.
For the state:
– increase tax revenues;
– Improving the welfare of citizens providing services;
– improving the health of citizens using services;
– the revival of cultural traditions;
– the preservation of small settlements;
– improving the living conditions of the rural population;
– increase the income of rural residents;
– reduce the migration flow from the village to the city by creating additional jobs;
– stimulating the study of folk customs and rituals;
– revival and promotion of traditional values and lifestyle;
– development of folk crafts;
– preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of the territory;
– performance evaluation from the perspective of a host providing rural tourism services
– additional income;
– expansion of production;
– production development;
For residents of rural settlements:
– for a number of social groups, especially children, it becomes important to realize the historical and cultural significance of their own “small Motherland”, pride in its fame in the camp and in the world;
– solving the problem of employment of local residents, providing them with jobs, sharing the values of international culture, including through interpersonal communication;
– support of socially unprotected segments of the population; – improvement of the housing stock;
– expansion of sales of agricultural products;
– cultural development, familiarity with the history, traditions, religion, rituals, cuisine of the local population;
– the acquisition of skills, abilities in a particular area of activity;
– additional resting place;
– the diversity of nature;
– the possibility of improving health;
Based on the above, this activity should be considered as a strategic socio-economic and socio-political project to support the Russian village and the Russian province as a whole, requiring a political decision at the level of government and interdepartmental coordination, as well as a balanced approach in the selection of projects. It is necessary to approach not from the position of a rapidly changing fashion and from other tactical considerations, but taking into account historical, cultural, socio-cultural, ecological and other aspects unique to the territory, which as a result builds the most economically promising strategic line in tourism. Making decisions for the sake of illiterate investors is fraught with the destruction of the historically established socio-cultural environment, such strategically valuable factors in the formation of a tourist product, such as landscape, historical-architectural environment, etc.