Rural tourism has a high potential to stimulate local economic growth and social change because of its complementarity with other economic activities, its contribution to GDP and job creation, and its capacity to promote the dispersal of demand in time (fight seasonality) and along a wider territory.
UNWTO understands Rural Tourism as "a type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s experience is related to a wide range of products generally linked to nature-based activities, agriculture, rural lifestyle / culture, angling and sightseeing.
Rural Tourism activities take place in non-urban (rural) areas with the following characteristics: i) low population density, ii) landscape and land-use dominated by agriculture and forestry and iii) traditional social structure and lifestyle".
Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO
With the vision of making tourism a positive force for transformation, rural development and community wellbeing, UNWTO launched the ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ initiative.
It seeks to advance the role of tourism in valuing and safeguarding rural villages along with their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity, local values and activities (agriculture, forestry, livestock and/or fisheries), including their gastronomy.
UNWTO Recommendations on Tourism and Rural Development
The sustainability of tourism in rural areas will only be successful if a comprehensive, inclusive planning strategy is adopted and implemented based on a multi-action and multi-stakeholder participatory approach. The UNWTO Recommendations on Tourism and Rural Development, approved by the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly (A/RES/732(XXIV), aim to support governments at various levels, as well as the private sector and the international community in developing tourism in rural territories in a way that contributes to inclusive, sustainable and resilient development.
AlUla Framework for inclusive Community Development through Tourism
Under the leadership of the 2020 G20 Saudi Presidency, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the G20 Tourism Working Group have developed the AlUla Framework for Inclusive Community Development through Tourism to help fulfil the sector’s potential to contribute to and achieve inclusive community development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Framework provides guidance and inspiration to all governments, as well as all other key stakeholders in the tourism sector – including regional and local governments, the private sector, industry associations, civil society, communities and tourists – with the aim of fostering a truly holistic and integrated approach to inclusive community development through tourism.
International Rural Tourism Development – An Asia-Pacific Perspective
This publication released on the occasion of the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, focuses on community empowerment and poverty alleviation through rural tourism development. The report shines a light on rural tourism development in the Asia Pacific region with fourteen specific case studies that show how communities have adapted a sustainable approach to rural tourism that stimulates economic growth, creates employment and improves the livelihood of communities.