“Rural tourism – a tool for identity building and a chance for quality standards”: this is the title of the international congress on rural tourism which took place in Alba Iulia, Romania, from 4th to 5th of May, 2011. The organization of the first international congress of rural tourism in Romania appeared after the country was elected vice president of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) Executive Council, last year.
The event was organized by the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism and the National Association of Rural, Ecological and Cultural Tourism in Romania (ANTREC), in partnership with the European Federation of Rural Tourism Associations (EUROGITES) and under the high patronage of the WTO, with the support of the Alba County Council and the Alba Iulia Municipality Council.
Over 100 guests from Spain, Greece, Hungary, Poland, France, Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Italy and Israel participated to the event. Senior officials of the WTO, the Executive Director of the WTO Regional Commission for Europe – Zoltan Somogyi, the Secretary General of Eurogites – Klaus Ehrlich, representatives of international and regional tourism bodies as well as of local and central public authorities with activities related to tourism were present to the conference.
The aim of the event was to show the participants the strategies adopted by different tourism organizations to develop rural tourism and to strengthen the cooperation between the international rural tourism associations.
During the conference special attention was paid on the following topics:
- the relationship between rural tourism and sustainable development;
- rural tourism as a tool to build local identity;
- public-private partnership in rural tourism;
- the importance of cultural heritage for the development of this sector of tourism.
A final declaration of the local, national, regional and international institutions involved was adopted at the end of the conference. The document confirms the commitment of the international and regional organizations in the field of tourism and rural tourism to continue their cooperation to better promote rural tourism and to attract more tourists both at domestic and international level.
The participants also underlined the progress made in the field of rural tourism and emphasized its key role in preserving natural and cultural heritage. They also stressed the necessity to establish strategic partnerships with local and national partners as well as with media and to provide proper information to the consumers in order to better meet their expectations.