Analysis of macro environmental factors influencing the development of rural tourism: Lithuanian case

Vytautas Barkauskas, Kristina Barkauskiene, Edmundas Jasinskas

Abstract


Purpose. The aim of the paper is to look deeper into macro environmental factors and to analyze the impact of those factors on the development of rural tourism in Lithuania.

Methodology. To achieve the aim and objectives of this paper the following scientific methods have been used: systematic-logical, comparative and structural analysis of economic literature; holistic approach to the research problem; synthesis; statistical analysis. The analysis is based on scientific literature, statistical data (Lithuanian Department of Statistics, State Department of Tourism), mathematical statistical analysis and specialized electronic information sources.

Results. This article analyzes the macro environment factors that affect the rural tourism sector and its growth. The analysis also investigates the main aspects of Lithuanian rural tourism; value and benefits to Lithuania economy to develop rural tourism. The development of rural tourism creates economic and non-economic, i.e., socio-cultural and ecological benefits.

Five groups of macro environmental factors were identified after analysis of various scientific literature: economic, socio-cultural, natural-ecological, political-legal, and technological factors were The article analyses the following macro environmental factors influencing the development of Lithuanian rural tourism: economic factors (macroeconomic stability, unemployment, inflation, investment, consumer spending power), socio-cultural factors (demographic situation, migration, history and traditions, cultural peculiarities, lifestyle, religious aspects), natural-ecological (environmental situation, geographical location, climate, landscape, seasonality, natural resources), technological (the information and communication technologies, new technologies, scientific and technical progress) and political-legal factors (political stability, strategic development objectives, small and medium business promoting, the government executed rural tourism promotion and regulatory policy, the European Union's support, the business of rural tourism regulating legislation, environmental protection legislation.

The theoretical contribution. The article marks out and systematizes the main macro environmental factors that determine the development of rural tourism. The analysis allows to predict trends of rural tourism sector in Lithuania and to provide the plan of actions and measures for development in rural tourism sector.  However, for a more accurate prediction, micro environmental factors should take into account.

Rural tourism is an important part of the Lithuanian tourism sector, affecting the image formation of the state or the region and promoting the growth of inbound tourism. The development of rural tourism generates economic, social and cultural, and ecological benefits for countryside, regions and country as well. The development of rural tourism  leads to the following economic benefits: GDP growth; unemployment decrease, i.e. creating workplaces (as well as for unskilled workers) in the related business - accommodation, feeding, trade, entertainment;  increasing local residents and state revenues; foreign investment attraction; promotion of the development and variety in other sectors (local crafts, manufacturing and agriculture); infrastructure development.

The social and cultural benefits of rural tourism include such aspects as: cultural exchange; recovery of cultural activity; promotion of social integration (closer contacts between the local population and tourists), community involvement; preservation of cultural heritage, conservation and promotion of indigenous cultural values, promotion of local residents’ entrepreneurship.

Meanwhile ecological benefits of rural tourism include environmental protection (protection of natural areas); improving infrastructure, protection of the landscape.

Keywords: rural tourism, development, development of rural tourism, macro environmental factors.

Paper type: Theoretical paper.


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