Sophiko Tevdoradze, an assistant professor, a doctorate of Tbilisi State University of Economic Relations
An article analyzes modern situation of cultural and rural tourism not only in the world but also in Georgia.
It shows their importance in providing country’s economic development and stability.
For proper planning and prognosis there are given some conclusions and recommendations based on the analysis of tourism resources’ optimal use in Georgian mountainous regions.
Tourism in settlements and regions with historical sights has become a substantial source of income and national economic increase in many countries. In the beginning of nineties, the slump of tourism activity has been noticed because of Georgian social-economic instability.
Since 1995, in comparison with other types of economic activities, tourism showed high stability level even in terms of economic crisis. However, its growth rate declined and some tourism flows’ geographical transformation took place.
This proves that touristic recreation has become a usual demand amongst our country’s population. In addition, it is essential to orient these tourism streams inside the country.
Cultural tourism has cognitive, educational, and recreational meaning for tourists. It is regarded as profitable field for developing cities and regions. Positive effect of developing tourism industry is obviously seen in economic benefits that cities and citizens can get from investments, renting mansions, workmanship, etc. Population’s quality of life is being improved by means of dwelling restoration and reconstruction, improving settlements and territory infrastructure. Tourism industry deals with lots of problems in social field: increases employment level of local population by recruiting them, acquaints them with international cultural values in terms of interpersonal relations. Therefore, cultural tourism is the most important stabilizing factor in modern society1.
Cultural tourism consists of two important parts: natural and cultural heritage, which contains special cultural landscapes, historical cities and villages, architectural monuments, various types of museums, archeological excavations, workmanships, celebrations, traditional folk cuisine. Georgian rural territories and historical cities are rich with various cultural traditions and have all of these in large quantities. However, tourism development for many territories in Georgia is considered earlier which is stipulated with weak infrastructure of urban and rural regions: with non-existence of hotels, nutrition and recreational places, also with unprepared population to work in this field of business and culture, with non-existence of qualified staff, with weak information about heritage and cultural programs.
The second circle of the problem is related with cultural commercialization and tourism development as a commercial activity. Urban or rural authorities cannot influence formation of tourism flows, tourism and cultural programs. In addition, tour-operators use urban infrastructure, cultural places, but they do not take part in fulfillment of city budget.
Besides this, historical territories, with developed architectural, spatial and touristic infrastructure, have already developed real subjects of cultural activities and tourism. These are tourism companies, museum-reserves, Georgian Orthodox Church and local population. Each of them has their own goals and tasks, which do not interact within the framework of city and region development common program.
Many Georgian cities have no economic and social cultural development complex programs, where tourism plays important role. Insufficient efforts are made to form “positive image” of the territory in Georgian and world tourism market. Difficulties in reorganizing management system cause slowing of tourism development and therefore deepening economic problems of the cities.
It is obvious that certain transfers from city budget, where revenue goes from tourism market, should be consumed for conservation and reconstruction of historical buildings and city environment. Moreover, the more are monuments, cultural and natural sights in the city, the more certain type of service can be offered to tourists, the more time they spend for their holidays. Long staying tourists can bring more profit to economy (as consumers in hotels and restaurants) than those tourists who arrive just for a few days. Therefore, problems influencing the economic development of any city are obstacles in expanding tourism infrastructure and the number of sightseeing. Such targets are reconstruction and repairing of old buildings with local style, constructing new well-built territory in high quality, developing private boarding houses and hotel buildings. Besides, emerging of small private cafes and restaurants with national cuisine, expanding entertaining industry, including celebrations, festivals, exhibitions, concerts, etc. becomes a stimulus of the city development2. This encourages young people to return to their homes and start working as a qualified staff.
Development of the city historical centre and its environment is related to adoption of natural components and landscape, formed over the centuries. Therefore, while elaborating tourism development zones and schemes, organizing excursions and holiday zones in certain territories, we must take into consideration the peculiarities of the nature, region’s historical data, ethic and social elements of local culture.
In many cities and historical villages, it is considered exciting and attractive for tourists to visit the outdoor museums or museum-reserves, which are located in the open territory in its historical part.
There are demonstrated not only static but also dynamic expositions: fairs, theatrical performances, games, etc. Such type of territories – reserves can be formed as partnership, as they are the most important elements of the city environment, encouraging cultural maintenance and regional signs of development, meanwhile it somehow deals with financial problems.
The aspects of organizational-management tourism development are quite important and require special elaboration. Many cultural events can have strategic direction and can be oriented on future (including celebrations, festivals, and sport events and in other activities). Such perspective-oriented activities should include relevant municipal management formation in historical part of the city, which would coordinate the future local touristic hotel work and analyze the estimation of tourism resources, market, tourism demands, and held advertising activities, etc. This is essential for small towns, with unused cultural potential and tourism product.
In order to develop tourism in Georgia, it is necessary to adopt a certain investment policy that includes partnership with western countries. It is essential to have some guarantees of a touristic partner country. However, this is difficult in terms of economic and social crisis. Therefore, it is necessary to look for domestic resources in order to modernize and reconstruct infrastructure, monuments, and historical buildings by creating joint enterprises and attracting investors etc.
It is necessary to elaborate legislative base of tourism, form management system, through creating special tourism partnerships in the field of cultural development.
Rural tourism –is a new sector of tourism industry. Edward Inskip, the expert of the world tourism organization and a professor of California University defines it in the following way: “Rural tourism is the kind of tourism where – small touristic groups travel for the recreation purposes, in the villages and traditional remote settlements in order to acquaint local traditions and country life.”
Nowadays this kind of tourism is not actually developed in Georgia over the lack of tourism infrastructure, tourism resources, relevant staff and programs. Each region of Georgia possesses great tourism potential. However, this potential has not been relevantly studied and fully used yet. Each type of tourism resource requires special development program, that has a general outline in Georgia yet, and it is not enough for demand increasing and developing of rural tourism.
Tourism development on a regional level must coincide with the rural tourism development of Georgia. Natural and recreational resources of many regions and cities enable to rent buildings to the holidaymakers in summer. In such territories, along cozy and eye-catching small rivers, it is possible to develop sport, ecological, children and youth, ethnographical, recreational tourism both in summer and in winter. Rural tourism can be oriented on satisfying people’s needs with “average” and “below” income, as the rural tourism system is known as that one can take a holiday with relatively small expenses. (The main motivation of rural tourism is having a holiday cheaply, with less comfort, but in ecologically clean and pleasant environment). All these provides extra employment of the population not only of small towns but also of villages (renting a living, guest serving, producing and selling food products, folk products).
Country tourism can give a fresh impulse to regional development. In such organization, the issue of creation a special type of future partnership for agricultural tourism development arises. Its potential partners could be the local government committee of a village, representatives of cultural units, local community ready for tourist activities.
For the reason of successful development of agricultural tourism, numerous European countries have worked out special programs providing reconstruction and design of comfortable rural houses equipped with modern facilities preserving national style. In solvent demand countries, such tourist product meets the demands of new consumers who represent a significant segment that also exists in Georgia. The competitiveness of the agricultural touristic product has led many countries to success in tourism industry along with world tourism leaders.
Priorities of Cultural and agricultural Tourism development
Culture in relation with tourism (“Cultural Tourism”) is capable to become an important factor of development of historical territories by amalgamating different subjects of cultural activity especially if they involve various groups of community, social and business structures under the aegis of state and administrative organs. In this respect, the role of the Ministry of Culture as a participant of such interrelation becomes substantial. Other institutions become partners of new programs of cultural tourism development in historical cities and villages.
It is necessary to elaborate programs of cultural tourism development as a part of city, village or regional development program, taking into consideration cultural development program. Such programs are created to renovate a territory economically; they are oriented to distributing tourism from already established centers to new remote places. Such programs are tourist products that primarily offer national and cultural heritage, traditional handicraft, folk festivals etc. Consequently, development of such product is considered as the cultural factor of the entire region development.
A distinctly differentiated tourist product is not a mere description of places of interest and tourist infrastructure of the region. It should combine a certain amount of various natural and cultural components, tourism infrastructure and types of activities in order to provide a visitor with possibility of choice. The program should aim to attract tourists offering them the range of available routs. On the other hand, it should facilities the improvement of local community living standard without drastic changes or harm of local culture and way of living. Countryside and small towns where rural tourism is being developed face the problem how to reveal, use and form tourist sources such as:
· Cultural events, camping sites near monasteries, country houses, cottages applicable for tourists’ accommodation.
· Construction of special buildings with accommodating functions such as “national villages”, “hunters /fisherman’s houses”, “cultural centers”, etc.
To solve this problem it is necessary to find social dumper that would allow us to employ population, preserve its density in the towns and villages, and avoid migration and negative social events. Cultural and Rural Tourism must be considered as an alternative business (family small business) and have political- juridical and financial support from the government.
Cultural and Rural tourism may exist in the defined spatial environment at the account of applying and developing historical-cultural potential of place. In addition, the shaped partnership on its base has territorial- local, interregional and international disposition. Such kind of tourism may become an instrument solving various problems existing in the territory. Nevertheless, there was established some break among the opportunities, which is carried by cultural and rural tourism and at present time is summed up by practice. Moreover, in relation with this business it is necessary to support cultural and rural tourism social-integration functions’ development in terms of modern Georgia. Some partnership mechanism should be developed in this sphere, which would serve both territory interests and cultural sphere and it would become effective point of the growth, especially in investment recourses field.
In order to transform the direction in the sphere of cultural industry, the Ministry of Culture should take the following measures:
1. In relation with this business together with other services (Ministry of Economical Development of Georgia, Culture, Sport and Tourism Departments, Ministry of Agriculture) ministry should elaborate Cultural and Rural Tourism’s development state inter-branch program. It must be became political and economical support of cities and rural territories’ culture development.
2. It is necessary to amend legislation about tourism and resorts, and some funds should be assigned in order to support historical monuments, city and village environment restoration, which is easy notable in many countries of the world. In order to develop infrastructure it is necessary to increase region’s budget and set up strict monitoring of the expenses.
3. To support modern IT development in tourism sphere, create interactive tourism portals and databases that will include information about cultural routes, events, monuments, historical places, museums, private houses etc that is necessary for success in cultural and rural tourism sector.
For development cultural and rural tourism, it is necessary:
· To create regional and intraregional base about monuments, museums, historical routes etc. for tourists and touristic business level subjects.
· To held educational workshops and consult municipal structures for assessment of its own cultural potential and considering it as a profitable sector for agricultural development.
· Work out cultural and rural tourism development programs on a regional and local level, especially on its first stage.
· Elaborate normative-legal base, which will regulate tourism activities and cultural field.
· To support tourism cultural product’s promotion on a market.
One of the main factors of rural tourism development is its support by the state, as the experience of the following countries has showed (as Italy, Cyprus, and Bulgaria etc.).
Planning and development of cultural and rural tourism in Georgia must be implemented by considering three main principles of steady development:
· Ecological stability ensures joint development of basic ecological processes, bio variety and biological resources.
· Social and cultural stability ensures overall protection of people’s life, common culture and values and strengthening of unique identity.
· Economic stability encourages economic effectiveness of development when the selected method of using resources is a warranty of maintaining them for future generations.
· Stable tourism helps to become more aware of its influence on nature, cultural and social spheres.
· Stable tourism ensures fair allocation of revenues and expenses.
Tourism creates employment in local tourism and in other fields as well.
· Tourism encourages stimulating profitable fields such as hotels and other types of accommodation, restaurants, transportation, national industry, excursion etc.
· Tourism supports foreign currencies attraction, capital investments in local economy and its diversification.
· Tourism encourages basic local infrastructure: transportation, telecommunication, etc.
· Cultural tourism supports deepening of self –consciousness of the local population and encourages more understanding between people with different cultural background through interacting in tourism business.
· Ecological tourism supports using of nonagricultural lands, which play an important rope in preserving natural flora and fauna.
· Ecologically stable tourism presents the most important role of natural and cultural resources in a development of community in economical and social field and supports its protection.
1. Sevan O.G. “Historical city and Tourism” Moscow. 1995
2. Skortsov “Human culture and society in a contest of Globalization”
Independent institute of Human right’ 2005
3. Inskip “National and regional planning of Tourism” Madrid 1994
4. Kvaratskhelia. “Agro tourism” “Supporter of regional economic development in Georgia” Journal “Economy” 2005