Your own business: rural tourism
Rural tourism (it is also called “green” tourism or agritourism) is a relatively new phenomenon in the domestic tourism industry. Although in other countries such an unusual kind of recreation has long been very popular, especially among the inhabitants of big cities: 35-40% of Europeans prefer to relax not in famous resorts, but in rural areas.
The leaders in the agro-tourism business are the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Hungary. With the assistance of the Council of Europe, the European Federation for the Development of Rural Tourism (European Federation of Village and Farm Tourism) was founded, which includes 24 countries. In Europe, the organization of agrotourism brings a stable and growing income. In the countries of the European Union, it makes up, approximately, 20-25% of the total income of the tourism industry. Every year this figure increases by several percent.
A portrait of the target audience for this type of service looks like this:
- 65% of women and 35% of men;
- families with, on average, two children;
- people who lead an active sports lifestyle who want to be closer to nature and open to everything new;
- 37% of rural tourists are people between the ages of 35 and 49, the rest are young people between the ages of 20 and 35 who dream of a village romance, and the older generation who want to rest from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
- high-income families living in large cities, and married couples of retirement age.
In our country, rural tourism is just beginning to gain popularity, so competition in this segment is currently almost non-existent. Tours are mainly organized in the Krasnodar Territory, Altai, Karelia, Leningrad, Pskov, Yaroslavl, Ryazan and Kaliningrad regions. Nevertheless, experts predict a rapid growth in demand for such services in all regions of Russia over the next few years.
What is the difference between rural tourism from the usual? Agrotourists spend their leisure time not in campsites in the woods and not hiking in the mountains, but in the countryside with all the charms of rural life. This type of recreation attracts residents of large cities who have never been to a village before.
Tourists are located in the countryside, where there is no industry and no multi-storey buildings. The agency rents the so-called guest houses, rooms or individual floors with all the necessary furniture, dishes, linens, towels and other things necessary in the household. You can rent a room or a house in the village for a period from two days (weekend tour) to several months (for example, for the whole summer). Vacationers enjoy the closeness to nature, fresh air and healthy, rustic food from organic products.
So, rural tourism is a new and promising direction that deserves attention. It would seem that it could be simpler: just choose any village in the region, arrange renting with local residents, place ads in newspapers and wait for calls from first customers. Nevertheless, as in any other business, there are pitfalls here.
Let’s start with the fact that “any village” is not suitable for agro-tourism. The tour participants expect from such a rest, above all, a calm and measured life in the idyllic outback, including clean air and silence, comfortable living conditions (since we will not forget that the main target audience of such tours are people who are used to the conveniences of city apartments ), homely atmosphere, reasonable prices, natural products and delicious food, getting pleasant impressions, a large selection of entertainment for children and adults.
Rural tourism infrastructure means good transport links between settlements, the availability of leisure facilities (cafes and taverns, a horse riding training center, tennis courts, saunas, hunting grounds, livestock farms, etc.) and all the necessary amenities in a rented house or building. Guests are accommodated (as they call tourists coming to rest in the village) in guest houses or in separate rooms, which ideally have a separate entrance, running water, a dry closet and at least a minimal set of household appliances.
As entertainment, they are invited to a beach holiday on the river bank, fishing, hunting, picking up mushrooms and berries, visiting the bath, cycling and horseback riding, excursions to local attractions, visiting the farm, feeding the animals.
Unfortunately, many Russian villages and villages do not meet these requirements. Obviously, in most cases, companies that organize agricultural tours cannot do without state support. Many representatives of the government have already realized the importance of such a direction in tourism and are making every effort to make their region attractive for lovers of rural recreation.
The development of agrotourism business goes in two directions – the development of a network of tour operators who work in the field of domestic tourism, search for clients and solve all organizational issues, as well as the creation of guest houses in villages and villages where vacationers stop. The owner of such a house registers his business activities with the tax inspectorate and receives the status of an individual entrepreneur, and then enters into an agreement for the accommodation of guests with one or several tour operators.
According to surveys that were conducted in Moscow, the Moscow suburbs and Ryazan, most residents of large cities, in addition to the capital, agree to pay from 500 to 1000 rubles per day for accommodation (including meals) in a wooden house with partial conveniences. Muscovites are willing to pay much more, but they also impose higher requirements on living conditions (ideally, a cottage with all the amenities, including modern appliances).
The overwhelming majority of respondents from the preferred types of recreation called hunting, fishing, and gastronomic tourism. At the same time, older people turned out to be more interested in visiting historical and cultural sights. The optimal period of residence and recreation in rural areas was 5-10 days. But no less were in demand and short weekend tours. Summer was mentioned as the preferred time for rest, and winter was in second place (mainly for the purpose of hunting and fishing). In the spring and autumn there is a decline in agro-tourism.