THE PROMOTION OF RURAL TOURISM IN KOREA AND OTHER EAST ASIA COUNTRIES: Policies and Implementation
Tourism is arguably the world’s largest economic sector, accounting for over 10% of the world’s GDP and employment (WTO, 2002). Moreover, world tourism is expected to continue to grow, creating 5.5 million new jobs annually until the year 2010. In contrast, many rural economies have suffered falling employment and income levels in traditional agrarian industries, contributing to wider economic decline and many social problems. The loss of public services, high unemployment levels and the consequential emigration of younger, better-educated community members have collectively endangered the fabric and structure of rural areas (OECD, 1993).
These factors have led policy planners and rural leaders to actively consider recreation and tourism1 as an economic development base in many rural areas, with farm households in particular, standing to benefit from new demands, via local job creation, environmental protection and enhancement, relatively low investment cost, a wider role for women, and closer urban-rural contact (OECD, 1994; Sharpley and Sharpley, 1997; Sharpley, 2002). In particular, rural tourism may be able to develop remote an d peripheral areas which find it difficult to obtain other development alternatives (Busby and Rendle, 2000; Kline, 2001). The extent of rural tourism is difficult to quantify on an international basis (OECD, 1994), but may comprise 10-20% of all tourism activities (Henegan, 2002).
Together, recreation and tourism may be termed ‘leisure’. Outside the home, the distinction between the two is not always obvious, but the first includes short-term and sometimes non-commercial activities (e.g. walking), while the latter is generally longer-term (e.g. ‘day visitors’ and overnight stays), and usually involves entry charges and/or service payments.
In most countries, tourism is perceived to be only one of a number of feasible options for effective rural development, and needs to be “integrated” with other activities. On the other hand, the remit of the Ministry of Agriculture often includes rural development, which may bias as well as complicate administration, for example focussing on the needs of farmers, rather than across the whole economy.
The striking urbanization of East Asia may be expected to lead to consequences in various forms of outdoor and rural interests, expressed in demands into, out of, and within the region itself. Most ASEAN states have tourism development programmes and/or projects (WTO, annual; Government of Japan, 2004; FFTC, 2005), many of which emphasise the needs of rural areas, such as the alleviation of poverty. Although demand for rural tourism in these countries is growing, the sector may not, without guidance, develop in ways that can best meet wider policy goals – for example, it may concentrate on coastal areas, or in mountains with few farmers, or it may be dominated by national or international businesses which do not much engage the local population and its farm households. Some attractions in rural areas may be under-developed, with potential resources (e.g. farm labour) remaining unused, and local incomes non-maximised, while others may be over-exploited. More generally, the public-good aspects of tourism – good infrastructure and information, landscape beauty and wildlife preservation – require a degree of social organisation which governments can best provide, or at least encourage in its early stages.
The rest of this paper first discusses the economic characteristics of rural tourism and rural tourism policy in general, and then reviews the sector in East As ia, with special focus on the Republic of Korea. A 2004 survey of some 200 rural villages in Korea is described, before conclusions are drawn.
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By Jae-Ouk Lee Kenneth J. Thomson
Poster paper prepared for presentation at the International Association of Agricultural Economists Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, August 12-18, 2006
This article is quoted from Tourism ROY Newsletter published on 2010-04-06.
The article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.
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