Rural tourism – an opportunity not to be missed for community development

Rural tourism – an opportunity not to be missed for community development

On May 13, 2021 iRi virtually brought together in a training representatives from 36 rural communities, local elected officials, national and international experts. The webinar focused on rural tourism development in the Republic of Moldova. The event aroused interest from participants who had the opportunity to learn about the many sides of rural tourism in Moldova, but also about the experiences of other countries such as Hungary and the USA.

In the first part of the webinar, the participants discussed the concept of authentic tourism, but also about certain realities and perspectives for rural tourism development in the Republic of Moldova.

Vera Garciu, expert at the Tourist Information Center, ATU Gagauzia, presented examples of tourism services already created in rural Moldova and spoke about certain opportunities for developing a tourism product in collaboration with local authorities and other community stakeholders:

“In order to make visitors interested in your community, the tourist product you offer must be attractive and offer diversified services, otherwise people will choose to go elsewhere.” – Vera Garciu, Tourist Information Center, ATU Gagauzia.

Valeriu Prohnitchi, economist and researcher, came up with a broader statistical assessment on the rural tourism offer and demand in the Republic of Moldova, but also on the obstacles to its development. Some of the main challenges mentioned by the expert were the lack of experience of the Republic of Moldova in the field of tourism, the lack of an entrepreneurial mentality, the absence of an adequate community infrastructure and ecological problems in rural areas. Mr. Prohnitchi also mentioned that rural tourism in our country should be seen as an integral part of rural development:

“In the Republic of Moldova, rural tourism can be a complementary economic activity rather than an alternative. At the community level, organizations are needed to coagulate efforts, to build partnerships and to promote ideas of a larger geographical scale.” – Valeriu Prohnitchi, economist.

The second part of the event was dedicated to international success stories. The American experts shared with the participants of the training the experiences of community transformation through the development of rural tourism in small and underdeveloped communities in the United States and Hungary. The experts came up with some recommendations for increasing the local tourist attractiveness and promoting local products in the Republic of Moldova:

“When we talk about tourism, we have to think about how we can empower communities and people from the communities. Within the tourism development strategy we have to emphasise on empowering local communities and developing a common vision.” – Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLACP), USA.

“If you want to have a successful community, it’s very important to build relationships and listen to people in your own community. Rural tourism will bring a lot of problems and dissatisfaction (noise, waste, bad roads), but MEM Plus is there to use some of the skills you learned in the program. It is essential that in this process you create a close collaboration between all 3 sectors: LIGA group, community and LPA.” – Elizabeth Balint, Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLACP), USA.

“This course aims to empower community members to develop new skills to change the quality of life in our partner communities.” – Tatiana Cosuleanu, Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi).

The webinar is part of 5 trainings organized for 36 partner communities within the project “Minority empowerment in Moldova – MEM PLUS”, implemented by the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) in partnership with Great Lakes Community Action Partnership with financial support from the US Department of State.