Why Rural Tourism Is Growing Worldwide at 5%

by Joanne Steele on October 13, 2009

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Dad and Sam Goodspeed
Creative Commons License photo credit: Darin Barry Mr Barry and Sam Goodspeed in the Nevada City Parade

The World Tourism Organization rates rural tourism as one of the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry. The annual growth is reported at 5% representing 6% of the world GDP!

An Indian business blog, India Business Magazine, details reasons rural tourism is growing in popularity.

“  Most of the travellers are attracted towards the rural lifestyle, their farming, arts, dance and drama , local sports, activities like fishing, etc…. Rural tourism also offers endless opportunities such as rafting, horse riding, diving, mountain biking, etc. Showcasing the ethnic arts, crafts, culture and lifestyle in rural traditional settings provides a common platform for tourists to experience the diversity of art forms.”

Why do I bring this to your attention?

Because rural areas in western countries are forgetting that they also have “indigenous” populations with wonderful cultural traditions and local lifestyle customs that are a part of their attractiveness as a rural tourism destinations.

I have talked for years about the idea that “preserving indigenous culture”  isn’t only about rural Asia, Africa, Native American reservations or the outback of Australia. It’s about lifestyle in places like rural Ireland and Kansas in the US and Ontario in Canada.

People are drawn to rural tourism at every growing numbers because we are preserving the things that really matter.

People-focused entertainment like the twice monthly town-wide potlucks in Happy Camp, California, and the traditions of meeting at the local pub in rural Ireland, and church socials in the little towns of Kansas.

Nature-based recreation that research is showing is required for humans to develop normally. Check out Richard Louv’s research on this in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Person to person interaction that involves more than an economic transaction. Trading in locally owned businesses adds a human dimension to every activity undertaken in a rural setting. When I visited Jack’s General Store in Goldendale, WA, I loved the idea that every item on every shelf was Jack and his family’s personal decision. No supply chain was keeping track. When the suspenders his customers expect to be able to come in and buy run low, he reorders because they expect him to.

This post is my way of reminding you that what you do is vital.

You are working in a growth industry that provides people so much more than a good time.

Keep at it. This recession will be over soon.

Protect what you have. Your success will look really attractive to franchises and box stores that will want to come into your town and cash in the traffic your authenticity creates.

Celebrate your uniqueness. It is the best thing you have to offer the world.

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