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Rural tourism and the challenge of tourism diversification the case of Cyprus Rural tourism has long been considered a means of achieving economic and social development and regeneration More specifically it has been widely promoted as an effective source of income and employment particularly in peripheral rural areas where traditional agrarian industries have declined More recently however a number of established tourism destinations have also turned to rural tourism in order to diversify their tourism products and markets and to spread the benefits of tourism away from the coastal resorts into the hinterland The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which this latter role for rural tourism represents a realistic tourism development policy Based upon research into the development of agrotourism in Cyprus it highlights the challenges and problems encountered by rural tourism entrepreneurs identifying a number of issues which militate against the success of rural tourism development In particular it identifies high development costs but low returns low demand a lack of essential skills and the dominance of mass tourism operators as major challenges It concludes therefore long-term financial and technical support is essential if tourism is to play an effective rural development role Article Outline 1 Introduction 2 Rural tourism a development panacea 3 Tourism in Cyprus 4 The development of agrotourism in Cyprus 5 Agrotourism in Cyprus from policy to practice 6 Agrotourism a success story 7 Methodology 8 The perceived benefits of agrotourism 9 Agrotourism the challenges 91 Lack of support 92 Lack of training 93 Lack of local facilitiesamenities 94 Low occupancy levels 95 Ineffective marketing 10 Summary and conclusions Acknowledgements Reference 1 Introduction Tourism has long been considered an effective catalyst of rural socio-economic development and regeneration Throughout Europe in particular tourism has been widely promoted and relied upon as a means of addressing the social and economic challenges facing peripheral rural areas primarily those associated with the decline of traditional agrarian industries
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