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Rural Tourism Destination: The Ligurian Farmers’ PerspectiveDestinos turísticos rurales: La perspectiva de los agricultores de Liguria

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Abstract Rural tourism is considered a high potential form of tourism, enhanced by the demand for more sustainable and nature-based solutions, and able to contribute to territory resilience. A rural area is not necessarily a tourist destination, but it might become one, if agricultural enterprises are willing to diversify their economic activities by investing in rural tourism, and local actors provide active support and co-participation. This research focuses on the development of rural tourism in hinterland, mountainous, and hilly areas of the province of Savona in Liguria (North-West of Italy) in order to gather the farmers’ perspectives about local rural tourism destination development. Liguria is known above all as a seaside tourist destination. In recent years, policy makers have initiated a debate with local actors to relaunch Ligurian tourism by trying to develop alternative forms of tourism, such as rural tourism. A sample of 32 farmers already proposing rural tourism activities such as agritourism were involved in a mixed methodological approach aimed at validating local interest toward rural tourism and collecting information for designing future local development policies. At first, a questionnaire set up by a panel of experts was carried out, followed by one-to-one semi-structured interviews, and finally the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) was used to identify local priorities, strategies, and tools. The results highlight the willingness of farmers to invest in the rural tourism sector, the presence of heterogeneous interests, and the complexity of management of the relationship among the various stakeholders. Findings are partially explained by the early stage of development of rural tourism in the analyzed area, a phase in which starting a constructive dialogue on objective and project ideas among all stakeholders seems to be a crucial priority among the farmers taking part in the study. 


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