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Evaluative synthesis of results

An evaluative synthesis integrated the results of the empirical, analytical and operational research and related them to the project’s conceptual framework, and to end-user and policy needs. This involved no new research but required a careful and focussed interpretation of SPRITE’s results. It provided firm conclusions on the role of integrated tourism in the development of lagging rural regions; the integrative processes involved; its potential for permeating local and regional economies, societies and cultures; and its economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts on localities. It also yielded concrete recommendations for the effective and sustainable development of integrated tourism in regionally-specific contexts, and made an important contribution to the policy objective. A report was written for each country which provide valuable resources to institutions and practitioners at national and regional levels with practical professional interests in developing better integrated tourism in Europe’s lagging rural regions.

UK: The evaluation demonstrates that Cumbria has more integrated institutional, socio-cultural and economic networks and a more established tourism identity than the England/Wales border region, where lack of regional integration has curtailed the collective bargaining power for local actors. The scale and success of the promotion of Cumbria is in contrast to the Welsh border region which, despite many socio-cultural attractions, is not so well known in domestic or overseas markets. A gradual process of increased dialogue between business associations and the public sector could result in growth of mutual trust and partnership, with benefits in policy coherence, transparency and accountability. A sustained investment in the local human resource base is certainly the long-term answer to many of the problems identified.

ES: The experience of Alta Ribagorça and the Aitana Valleys suggests that balancing the many factors involved in integrated tourism can be difficult to achieve, but activities that help this process should be largely welcomed in rural areas, although local communities may not always feel the same way. The lack of co-ordination between the various actors represents a weakness which has led to ambiguity on land use and the seasonality of tourism, a deficiency in initiatives for businesses, and the necessity for a clear model of integrated development.

IE: Most actor groups were supportive of IT though institutions were less involved than other actors in both regions. Tourism is highly embedded in the natural, social, cultural and economic environments and generally complements the local economy. Rural tourism policy is determined centrally but local involvement and empowerment was promoted by government re-organisation and the adoption of new partnership governance structures during the 1990s.

GR: Local actors recognised the important role that tourism plays in the development of both regions. The economic benefits are most commonly mentioned, but local communities considered that these benefits have not been equally distributed. Other benefits include local socio-cultural development, the promotion of local traditional products and an improvement in basic services. Improved planning and leadership in rural and tourism development policy are necessary to enhance integration. One factor hindering integration in both areas is the limited financial capital, thus a better allocation of economic resources is required.

FR: Both study regions are rural with an average scale tourism activity and both areas are RNP, which are considered to be laboratories for sustainable development. Tourism is diffuse and undeveloped and actors are very diverse and need different types of support and incentive. Development in this sector will require improvement in the competencies of business owners/managers, facilitating access to funding, improving networking, and the regulation of quality schemes. Complementarity of activities exists with regard to natural resources but is not systematically supported, even between institutions. Most actors complain about the lack of a common policy framework for tourism, too much overlap in the activities undertaken by different institutions, and insufficient cooperation between and within sectors, territorial levels, and actor groups.

CZ: Tourism has become the most important economic activity in both regions since the 1990s. The contribution to local incomes is based on the attractiveness of place or individual cultural or natural resources. The main difference between the areas lies in the importance and spatial distribution of cultural resources and their contribution to the regional image. Both regions are of interest to several institutions with different scales and modes of operation; there is no single umbrella organisation responsible for setting policy and planning frameworks for tourism development.

Reported by

Countryside and Community Research Institute,
Dunholme Villa, The Park, Cheltenham
United Kingdom
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