The European Committee of the Regions and UN Tourism break new ground with study on rural tourism and development in Europe

UN Tourism has partnered with the European Committee of the Regions to conduct a comprehensive study of the significant impact and potential of tourism in promoting socio-economic development in rural areas.

united nations tourism
European Committee of the Regions

The report emphasizes the important role of collaboration between these two organizations in linking local and global efforts towards shared objectives. This demonstrates the potential of rural tourism to contribute to the resilience of regional and local communities, addressing challenges such as population decline, inequality and limited access to basic services.

Alves Vasco Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, says: “Free movement has always been at the heart of the European project. Tourism as part of this mobility has helped shape our European identity and is a powerful driver for growth and jobs, breathing new life into communities across Europe.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UN Tourism, says: “Tourism has the potential to transform societies, stimulate local economic development and empower local communities. This joint study with the European Committee of the Regions highlights the importance of rural tourism in contributing to sustainable Underlines developments in Europe.”

key findings

Tourism has the potential to transform society, stimulate local economic development and empower local communities

The study provides a comprehensive understanding of rural tourism and its impact on European regions, focusing on the following:

  • Resilience of rural tourism after Covid:This report highlights the remarkable resilience demonstrated by rural tourism during and after COVID-19. Despite global challenges, rural tourism has seen a rise in popularity, especially among local travellers. This resilience underlines its potential as a strong economic driver and demonstrates its ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Economic diversification and cultural preservation: A key insight is the potential of rural tourism to promote economic diversification and job creation in rural areas. The study also underlines the contribution of tourism in the preservation of cultural heritage. Rural tourism is seen as a bridge between tradition and modernity, promoting community participation and maintaining local services while preserving the unique identity of rural areas.
  • Challenges and opportunities for sustainable development: The study identifies challenges facing rural areas, such as inadequate infrastructure, limited financial resources and declining local population. At the same time, it recognizes these challenges as opportunities for growth. By providing a nuanced understanding of the complexities involved, the report sets the stage for sustainable rural tourism development, urging stakeholders to approach the challenges thoughtfully.


The report presents a roadmap for policymakers, local governments and stakeholders to harness the potential of rural tourism while addressing its challenges.

  • Integrated Rural Value Chain and Collaboration: A broad recommendation is the integration of rural value chains in tourism. The report emphasizes the need for collaboration between businesses and stakeholders to create synergy within the local economy. By maximizing economic benefits, this approach ensures a holistic and sustainable development path for rural tourism.
  • Digital Connectivity and Skills: Recognizing the digital divide in rural areas, the report recommends focused efforts on improving digital connectivity. This underlines the importance of digital skill development to empower rural stakeholders to leverage technology effectively. By addressing these aspects, the report aims to increase the digital readiness of rural communities, opening up new opportunities in the digital age.
  • Alignment with consumer trends and sustainable practices: Recognizing changing consumer trends and the need to put sustainability at the center of tourism development, the report encourages responsible travel initiatives that not only meet changing consumer expectations but also contribute to broader sustainability goals. This recommendation positions rural tourism as a catalyst for positive environmental and social impact.
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