||This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. (January 2009)|
Rural tourism focuses on actively participating in a rural lifestyle. It can be a variant of ecotourism. Many rural villages can facilitate tourism because many villagers are hospitable and eager to welcome (and sometime even host) visitors. Agriculture is becoming highly mechanized and therefore, requires less manual labor. This trend is causing economic pressure on some villages, which in turn causes young people to move to urban areas. There is however, a segment of the urban population that is interested in visiting the rural areas and understanding the lifestyle. This segment in the tourism industry has been rapidly growing in the past decade, leading to rural tourism becoming not just a good business prospect, but a genuine vacation trend.
Rural tourism allows the creation of a replacement source of income in the non-agricultural sector for rural dwellers. The added income from rural tourism can contribute to the revival of lost folk art and handicrafts.
Relevance in developing nations
Rural tourism is particularly relevant in developing nations where farmland has become fragmented due to population growth. The wealth that rural tourism can provide to poor households creates great prospects for development.
Relevance in developed nations
Rural tourism exists in developed nations in the form of providing accommodation in a scenic location, ideal for rest and relaxation. There are many scenic towns that have become quaint spots for vacationers (See Sanford, Fl; Folsom, CA; St. Augustine, FL; Creede, CO)
United States: niche tourism in rural areas
Many niche tourism programs are located in rural areas. From wine tours and eco-tourism, to agritourism and seasonal events, tourism can be a viable economic component in rural community development. According the USDA, Cooperative State, Education and Extension Service, "Tourism is becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy. A conservative estimate from the Federal Reserve Board in Kansas, based on 2000 data, shows that basic travel and tourism industries accounted for 3.6 percent of all U.S. employment. Even more telling, data from the Travel Industry Association of America indicate that 1 out of every 18 people in the U.S. has a job directly resulting from travel expenditures."
The publication Promoting Tourism in Rural America explains the need for planning and marketing rural communities, as well as weighing the pros and cons of the impacts of tourism. Local citizen participation is helpful and should be included in starting any kind of a tourism program. Being prepared when planning tourism can assist in a successful program that enhances the community.
-  “Rural Tourism” (February 2008). USDA Cooperative State, Education and Extension Service. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
-  Wilkerson, Chad (2003). "Travel and Tourism: An Overlooked Industry in the U.S. and Tenth District." Economic Review, Third Quarter 2003. Federal Reserve Board in Kansas. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
-  "Economic Research: Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism." (2004). Travel Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
-  John, Patricia LaCaille (2008). Promoting Tourism in Rural America. National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
- "Why rural tourism is no picnic?". BBC. October 11, 2004. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- "Small and Home based Business". csrees. October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- Portal of rural tourism for whole southeastern Europe
- "Rural Tourism Resources." (September 22, 2008). National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008
- Rural tourism of Catalonia
- Travel Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 30, 2008.