Rural Tourism

New Challenges for Rural Tourism: Tourism has often been one of the first options rural areas have explored when seeking to diversify their economic structure and to develop alternatives to traditional primary activities. Rural areas boast high-value tourism resources: nature and landscape, historical, cultural and ethnographic heritage, gastronomy and artisanal products, which can support a range of tourism services, both the usual (accommodation, food services) and the new tourism services (outdoors, cultural, health…). After so many years, however, rural tourism is still a fraction of the global tourism market, and it is often seen as subordinate to urban tourism: cities attract the main tourism flows and added value, while rural areas are mainly offered as accessory playgrounds for one-day activities. The workshop intends to explore how rural areas can capture a larger share of the tourism market and extract higher value of enhanced tourism flows while keeping their rural character (avoiding overcrowding).

Diversifying rural economy into innovative and knowledge-based services: The social and economic development strategies in rural areas cannot only rely on the preservation or improvement of primary activities, or on the diversification into industries that process primary products or into low or medium value-added services. In most developed economies, advanced knowledge-based services are already contributing to a large share of economic activity and they are growing above average. These services, like technology-based industries, tend to be concentrated in urban areas, mainly around research centres. In many cases, however, these are companies that do not supply to final consumers and do not depend on local markets. They could therefore be located outside these urban environments, if infrastructure and service conditions were adequate. Rural areas, especially peri-urban areas with good communications, can be favourable locations for these companies, as they can offer lower costs, better life quality and a favourable environment for innovation and creativity.

Leader / Speaker

Fernando Méndez-Navia is Managing Partner of Grupo DEX. With a track record of more than 25 years, he has led the implementation of several projects and the elaboration of strategic documents in a diversity of topics, mainly related to local and regional strategic development, innovation or job creation, many of them supported by EU funds. Since 2001 he has led the preparation of the rural development strategies for various Local Action Groups.


Máximo González Aguilar, is Manager of the Local Action Group ADRIOA. Economist with a Master degree in Human Resources and Labour Relations from the University of Detroit (Michigan, USA), he has more than 10 years of work experience working in different sectors and countries, as well as a trajectory of more than 15 years as a businessman in the East of Asturias, where he has created companies in the agricultural sector, hotel services and logistics, which allow him to know first hand the problems of economic activities in rural areas. Since 2003 he has been dedicated to rural development, participating in the elaboration of local strategies in the east of Asturias and in the implementation of the different Rural Development and Fisheries Development Programmes financed with EU funds, as well as promoting cooperation projects with different national and European territories.