Archive for International Work and Links

Dutch Rural Tourism Expert Meeting

On the 19th of January 2011, a number of our project partners and RTITN members attended a meeting of Dutch rural tourism experts held in Hogeschool Van Hall Larenstein, Velp, Netherlands.  The meeting was organised by the European Centre for Eco Agro Tourism (ECEAT).

Dutch tourism discussions on future cooperation

The meeting was organised following research which was published by Kenniscentrum Recreatie indicating that a number of improvements could be possible in the rural tourism sector in the Netherlands.  The first half of the day included presentations from Francesco Fratto, Agriturist in Italy on their Italian case study, Dr. Paula Weinberger, Bavarian State Research Center of Agriculture on the organisation of rural tourism training in Bavaria, John Toland, Cavan-Monaghan LEADER regarding this Leonardo project and a some other Dutch presentations.  As a guest at this meeting, I was quite surprised by how the rural tourism sector operates in the Netherlands.  There is little cooperation between the various interest groups who each operate their own groups through self-regulation and with no nationally agreed standards.

The day was chaired by Ellen Kok from the Taskforce Multifunctional Agriculture.  The main issues were addressed in by the meeting participants in the afternoon included, Dutch Rural Tourism: entrepreneurship, hospitality, product, quality and marketing. What are the developments in the Netherlands and what does it mean for the education sector? 

Dutch rural tourism expert meeting

Participants consider content of presentations

The afternoon workshop included discussions on the potential for greater cooperation among the various sectors representing rural tourism in the Netherlands.  Those present represented the education sector, private schools, farming representative bodies, tourism marketing groups, camping organisations, nature conservation and the eco-tourism sector.  At the end of the day, this diverse group of participants agreed to future cooperation on a number of issues, mainly related to training and quaility standards for rural tourism

In the Netherlands there are many organisations involved in the rural tourism sector.  All agreed that there is a need for the establishment of an umbrella body to pull together all the rural tourism interest groups and work towards a common strategy.  The meeting concluded by agreeing to examine the potential for seeking further EU assistance towards developing a cooperation project through RTITN and/or some of its member organisations.  If you would like to know more please contact Carolien van der Laan in ECEAT.

For me this was a positive meeting and provided opportunities for the development of new contacts within rural tourism in the Netherlands. Thanks to ECEAT for organising the meeting and good luck with your next steps in developing the sector.

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RTITN submits Leonardo TOI application

In the frame of the Leonardo da Vinci LLP program call 2010 a proposal for a Transfer of Innovation project has been submitted. It is called TRANS RTI – Transfer of RTI-TN’s training methodology in rural tourism to Turkey, Romania and the Netherlands. With this proposal RTI-TN aims to export its training methodology and experience.

 The project proposal encompasses the following activities in Turkey, Romania and the Netherlands:

  1. Needs analysis; a description of the state-of-the-art of the rural tourism (training) sector in importing partner countries. What kind of training is given, which methodologies are being used. What is requested? In the Netherlands there will also be an investigation to the competences of entrepreneurs.
  2. Presentation of RTI-TN methodology; best practices and project results
  3. Adaptation and translation of training materials
  4. RTI-TN Train-the-Trainers course: training of local, regional or national trainers in rural tourism
  5. Training for entrepreneurs according the RTI-TN methodology with the new training materials
  6. Evaluation

Partners are: from Turkey – the Menderes town national education directorate, from Romania – the Centre for Tourism Training, Faculty of Geography, Babes-Bolyai University, from the Netherlands there are 3 partners, 2 vocational schools Helicon Opleidingen and AOC Friesland and project coordinator ECEAT Netherlands. 

Partners who will have advisory roles in the project are: from Germany the Bavarian State Research Center of Agriculture, from Austria Landesfachschule Groebming and from Switzerland AGRIDEA.

We hope for positive result of this application and we can’t wait to start with the proposed activities. Our colleague Carolien van der Laan has put alot of hard work in to preparing this application.  RTITN continues to seek to deliver projects which can enhance rural tourism training.

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Rural Tourism Workshops: Buryatia, Russia

I recently returned from an International Economic Conference which was held a Ulan-Ude, Buryatia, Russia between the 9th and 11th July 2009.  The invitation to participate in this conference came following communication with the Buryat State Academy of Agriculture, Ulan-Ude over the last year.  Following on from our communication and in partnership with a number of third level institutes in Europe a project application has been submitted to Tempus Tacis for tourism training project (more details to follow in next blog) .

The conference provided me with a unique insight in to the ecomonic and tourism development strategies of Buryatia and Siberia.  Tourism in Buryatia is restricted by seasonality and in some areas poor road infrastructure.  In terms of tourism assets it does have Lake Baikal, hospitable people, a well developed ethnic/cultural tourism product, good rail infrastructure and a developing activity based tourism product.

During this conference, I presented a paper on ‘Rural development in Ireland and the importance of rural tourism training to the economic development of rural communities’.  My presentation highlighted our experience in delivering the LEADER programme in our region, which is credited as being a successful approach to rural development throughout Europe.  In addition, I highlighted the work of Rural Tourism International Training Network and our approach in developing and delivering tourism training appropriate to the needs of the people and the industry.

Rural Development and the LEADER 'bottom-up approach' from an Irish perspective

Rural Development and the LEADER 'bottom-up approach' from an Irish perspective

 The conference was well organised with a number of related events running simultaneously.  As part of the conference, I was invited to deliver two separate workshops entitled ‘Rural tourism: from concept to business’ in two different locations.  The first workshop was based in a yurta in the grounds of the open-air Etnographic Museum in Ulan-Ude.  This interactive workshop was delivered over two and half hours to an audience of just over thirty.  The participants came from a number of backgrounds including bed and breakfast owners, tour operators, municipality representatives, some academic’s and others.  There was a high level of participation between all the participants and they indicated an interest in participating in further networking style workshops.  I was impressed by the bed and breakfast owners whom had a clear understanding of the needs of their clients and they were anxious to find ways of attracting greater visitor numbers.

Workshop participants continue discussions outside the yurt

Workshop participants continue discussions outside the yurt

The second workshop was delivered about 250 kilometres away from Ulan-Ude on the shores of Lake Baikal in an area known as ‘Enkhaluk-Sukhaya’ in the Kabansky region.  It was a breath-taking location to deliver a workshop on rural tourism and we had an equally enthusiastic group of participants.  There were more rural tourism providers present with the remainder including academics, tourism marketing representatives and activity tourism operators.

Lake Baikal rural tourism workshop

Lake Baikal rural tourism workshop participants

It was an enjoyable experience for me to deliver these workshops and to engage with the participants on issues effecting the development/marketing of tourism in their area.   The workshops were delivered in English and translated in to Russian by Zoya Yampilova from the Buryat State Academy of Agriculture.  All our workshop supporting material and workshop booklet were translated in to Russian in advance.  The combination of translated materials, the high standard of translation and enthusiastic participants helped to ensure that the workshops ran smoothly and that nothing was lost in translation. 

At the end of the second workshop we continued on afterwards with an impromptu study visit.  We filled two cars and travelled ten kilometres along the shores of Lake Baikal to visit two local tourism accommodation providers whom participated in the workshop.  Both accommodations were of a high standard and we were treated to excellent hospitality in each case.  We engaged in a more indepth discussion about tourism and everyone shared ideas on how the accommodation providers could improve their marketing / develop their facilities.

Lake Baikal is a beautiful place, but the welcome people and their hospitality was second to none. From a Rural Tourism International perspective we are looking forward to developing further contacts with partners in Buryatia and indeed Russia.  I will also keep you informed about our potential project which will provide further opportunities for RTITN members to become actively involved as trainers.

Duma in Ulan-Ude where Economic Investment projects were discussed

Duma, Ulan-Ude where Economic Investment projects were discussed

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