Rural tourism concentrates on taking part in rural surroundings and entails both eco-tourism and agro-tourism. Rural tourism is mostly fitting in developing countries where land for farming activities now lies in fragments because of escalations in population. For instance, Malta comprises of an archipelago established at the middle of the Mediterranean.
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With respect to land area, Malta sits on just more than 316 square kilometres making it rank amid the smallest countries in the world. Globally, both Cyprus and Malta stand out as tourist attraction centres with numerous tourist attraction sites with both boasting of more than a million tourists every year. Cyprus is an island nation at the East of Mediterranean Sea.
Cyprus takes the position of the third biggest island as well as third most inhabited country in the Mediterranean Sea. In this regard, Cyprus has a bigger land area than Malta. Considering local economic status, Cyprus seems to bear a wider collection of sectors than Malta where tourism sector captures a leading position after crowding out other sectors. Thus, Cyprus has a higher potential for success as most of its rural tourism endowments remain underutilized as compared to the case in Malta.
Rural tourism centres on taking part in a rural setting. Rural tourism could be an alternative of ecotourism. Additionally, rural tourism could entail both agro-tourism as well as eco-tourism. Every village could be a tourist appeal for many villagers are extremely hospitable.
Since agriculture is exceedingly becoming mechanised, it entails less manual work, which generates economic pressure on a number of villages, and thus causes migration of young individuals to urban regions. Nevertheless, a section of urban residents is concerned with visiting the rural regions and comprehending their viewpoint.
This section has been swiftly rising in the last decade and has brought about an excellent business prospect for rural tourism (Markwick 2000). Rural tourism permits the formation of an optional supply of revenue in the non-agricultural industry for rural inhabitants. The affixed revenue from rural tourism could add to the resurgence of gone handiworks and folk art, which is a perfect and natural means of urban and rural economic trade (King & Thomson 2008).
Rural tourism is mainly appropriate in developing countries where farmland has been fragmented due to population escalation. The increased revenues that rural tourism presents to the underprivileged households embrace huge prospects for growth. This paper compares the development of rural tourism in Malta and Cyprus.
The technique employed for the purposes of comparative evaluation in this paper includes both the SWOT investigation, as well as lesson drawing. SWOT is majorly employed for evaluating the internal and external environments in particular destinations in a bid to acquire a systematic support as well as move towards a judgement circumstance (Theobold 2005).
In addition, SWOT analysis centres on the weaknesses and strengths internal to a particular destination when considering external opportunities and threats. SWOT analysis can benefit policy formulation and establish future trends of progress in a destination. Nevertheless, SWOT analysis is restricted from the view of not being able to offer an extensive appraisal and thorough analysis of every specific aspect recognised coupled with evaluating judgement options in accordance with the given factors.
Lesson drawing is on its part a process that aims at assisting the interchange of experiences and practices from given destinations. Lesson drawing aims at identifying the situations and the degree to which successful practices in a given destination could be employed in another destination (Telfer & Sharpley 2007).
A specific setback to lesson drawing is the reality that some practices and experiences could be culture-specific to a given destination in a manner that they could be very appropriate in a particular destination, but be inappropriate in a different destination.
Regardless of this setback, when the “imitation” advance is applied in lesson drawing in a manner that experiences are obtained from a certain destination in a bid to adapt them to fit local circumstances in a different destination, lesson-drawing could be more valuable as compared to a blind use via the “duplicating” approach.
A blend of lesson drawing and SWOT analysis allows a detailed comparison of rural tourism in both Malta and Cyprus, which emphasises not just the common aspects, but also aspects distinctive to everyone of the destinations. Additionally, a detailed comparison also offers perceptiveness into the lessons, which a given destination would discover as useful from another destination from the view of policy for improvement (Smith & Hall 2006).
Nevertheless, making use of the lessons comes with several hurdles mainly due to differences in the environments in question with respect to ecological aspects, size, and constitution of the local economy. These difficulties could be tackled with the use emulation instead of the duplication approach.
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Background of the countries
Malta, which is legitimately the Republic of Malta, “is a Southern European nation comprising of an archipelago located in the middle of the Mediterranean” (Bramwell 2003, p. 581). With respect to land area, Malta occupies just more than 316 square kilometres, which makes it rank among the smallest countries in the world. Malta is as well among the most heavily populated nations internationally.
Malta stands out conspicuously as a global tourist attraction centre with several recreational regions and chronological monuments, which comprise World Heritage Sites like the outstanding Megalithic Temples that are a number of the most ancient self-supporting structures worldwide. With respect to Malta as a renowned tourist region, it boasts of more than a million tourists each year.
The number of tourists that visit Malta is thrice that of its inhabitants (Coles & Hall 2005). Rural tourism in Malta has risen considerably in the last years and several first-rate hotels exist on this island even though overgrowth and the demolition of traditional shelters are pertinent areas of conflict.
In Malta, rural tourism is a significant sector and a vital support for the economic status of Malta for more than 40 years (Sharpley 2009). Rural tourism in Malta is accountable for 23 per cent (Bramwell 2003) of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as creating employment for 30 per cent of the entire population.
The constant attempt of Malta to battle on price has turned out to be a key propelling aspect behind the witnessed upsurge in the number of tourists. Nevertheless, the rural tourism sector in Malta cannot continue to anchor on price as tourists are getting more concerned with higher excellence experiences on tourism, especially cultural as well as natural sites.
In this regard, Malta ought to embark on value and excellence-based competition since many other nations are presenting cheaper and similar attractions. Being highly reliant on tourism and offering rural tourism, which is very responsive to climate, Malta cannot remain a target for mass tourism, as climate alterations are probable of robbing the predictable sun, sea, and sand holiday sites in the Mediterranean area.
With regard to robbed holiday sites, which are the key attractive factors, by 2030 Malta will be subject to increasing temperatures (Mowforth & Munt 2009). The Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) suggests a more holistic policy, which concentrates more on core components like client contentment, exceptional excellence scheme, and a step up in standards of excellence.
Therefore, Malta ought to take up to the varying client feelings, demographics, and standards of living. Trends are demonstrating that people are touring mostly individually or in small groupings while at the same time getting more exploratory, more interested with ecological and safety matters coupled with progressively searching for new products and destinations devoid of negatively influencing the socio-cultural and ecological factors.
Cyprus, which is on record as the Republic of Cyprus, is an island nation at the East of Mediterranean Sea and south of Turkey. Cyprus is ranked as the third biggest island, as well as the third most inhabited in the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, Cyprus is among the most renowned tourist destinations (Picard & Robinson 2006).
Cyprus measures about 240 kilometres in length from end to end. In Cyprus, rural tourism has been a manner of attaining social and economic growth and revival for a long time now. More distinctively, rural tourism in Cyprus has been broadly encouraged as a successful source of revenue and employment.
Nevertheless, in the recent past, several set up tourism destinations have resolved to rural tourism in a bid to expand their tourism markets as well as products to extend the advantages of tourism far from the resorts at the coast into the neighbourhoods.
By 1999, “the recorded number of tourists in Cyprus had hit a figure 2.4 million with an income of approximately CYd1, 022 million” (King & Thomson 2008, p.270). Currently, rural tourism plays a major function in the economic status of Cyprus with its contribution of roughly 20% of GDP, a quarter of entire employments, and 40% of exports (Katircioglu 2009).
Additionally, mainly due to rural tourism, Cypriots now take pleasure in the third highest lifestyle after France and Italy as compared to all Mediterranean nations (Shaw & Williams 2004). In Cyprus, rural tourism remains obstinately seasonal. More than 25% of all tourists turn up in the peak season of July and August whereas the summer season of between July and September accounts for about 40 per cent of the entire annual arrivals (Katircioglu 2009).
A preponderance of rural tourists that take a trip to Cyprus does this on comprehensive-tour (package) plans. Particularly, 80 per cent of the United Kingdom market and 100 per cent of the Scandinavian market are normally on package vacations to Cyprus (Weaver 2006). This scenario has not just restricted the possibility to extend the more rewarding independent market, but as well allowing the Cyprus Island to become progressively reliant on a minute number of the main tour operators abroad.
Successive plans and strategies seek to realise a more balanced advance to rural tourism with the aim of slowing the development in tourism, better and expand the tourism brand, draw higher-expending tourists, decrease the influences of season changes, and extend the advantages of tourism across the island.
Agro-tourism holds the characteristic socio-economic objectives of rural tourism improvement (Yasarata, Altinay, Burns & Okumus 2010). Instead of being determined as an option to customary rural professions or standards of living, it is seen as supplementary revenue enabling daily practices although it includes the broader aim of relocating rural tourism in the island.
Comparison of rural tourism development in Malta and Cyprus
Main demand trends and characteristics of supply
Earlier suggestions indicate that rural tourists do not exist as a homogenous mass, but as a heterogeneous sector having diverse requirements and features. In this regard, both Malta and Cyprus are endowed with a diverse supply to take into account the requirements of the different segments (Fleischer & Tchetchik 2005).
Both Cyprus and Malta have an exceptional Built Heritage in terms of historic construction, as well as distinctive networks of supporting canals. Moreover, both Cyprus and Malta are preferred destinations for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation Heritage.
In terms of scenery, Malta consists of a funny impression of towns since it is fundamentally an enormous city constituted of numerous small municipalities. For instance, difficulty exists in realising where Bugibba ends and Qawra town begins. In Malta, streets are meandering and slender with houses being even narrower, thus presenting a strong sensation of dependability.
Additionally, houses bear painted walls and balconies with statues of Jesus and his mother Mary painted on streets. On the other hand, towns in Cyprus appear attractive also, but when compared to those in Malta, they seem more up to date with steel as well as glass buildings adorning the streets (Hall, Smith & Marcisewska 2006).
Potential for market success
Even though both Malta and Cyprus are within the Mediterranean region, the 2011 Human development Index by the United Nations Development Programme places Malta on a higher rank at 0.83, than Cyprus, which is at 0.84. The GDP per capita revenue is as well higher in Malta than in Cyprus (Agarwal & Shaw 2007).
Moreover, Cyprus is significantly bigger in land area than Malta; nevertheless, Malta’s rural tourism with the concentration of major cultural tourist attractions is higher as compared to that of Cyprus. With regard to the organisation of local economic status in both Cyprus and Malta, Cyprus seems to bear a wider selection of sectors than Malta where tourism sector captures a leading position after having successfully crowded out other sectors.
Cyprus has therefore a greater potential for success as most of its rural tourism endowments remains unexploited as compared to the case in Malta. It is worth to note that the total number and percentage of visiting tourists to the indigenous population of Cyprus is much higher as compared to that of Malta with respect to the smaller land area of Malta (Fleischer & Tchetchik 2005).
Malta as well encounters exceptional hardships by the manner of its demographic constitution, which is measured in support of older people and a fast decrease of its local population that is directly associated with the trouble of rural tourism improvement, which differs from the case of Cyprus.
The Likely social and rural impacts
With respect to the rural landscape, Malta does not actually have villages because it looks like a collection of small towns while Cyprus takes pride in charming villages; for instance, the villages of Akamas peninsula and those in Troodos Mountains. The villages in Cyprus make the most attractive scenery of the entire island.
Increased development of villages in Cyprus could negatively affect the local population in urban centres due to a shift in command of the rural areas. Moreover, increased development of these villages could affect economic activities in the urban places, as the rural areas will be all encompassing.
Given that Malta is not well endowed with several natural resources like Cyprus; for instance, in terms of waterfalls, mountains, long sandy beaches, and forests, agriculture plays a key role in rural tourism. Increased quest for resources in rural tourism other than agro-tourism as well as changing climate could adversely affect demand for rural tourism in Malta (Bramwell 2004a).
Agro-tourism can take on different forms and could include the following:
- Camping sites
- Educational trips
- Farm housing
- Farm trips
- Field days
- Horse rides
- Markets for farmers
- Organic farms
- Petting farms
- Rural museums
Ecotourism is greatly practised in both Malta and Cyprus. Ecotourism falls into two categories, viz. passive and active ecotourism (Bramwell 2004b). Passive ecotourism ensures safety of the natural environment as well as the host societies whereas active ecotourism entails a real conduct/ lifestyle modification in support of tourists and has to chip in to the interests of the environment.
Future view projections
Whereas Cyprus presently has the better opportunities for prosperity in rural tourism, Malta is rich with more unused prospective for development (Okomus 2009). The following are some of the factors that might influence the growth of the rural tourism in both Malta and Cyprus.
It is essentially a summary of advantages and disadvantages.
- Development position, life cycle- Malta has an internal saturation of rural tourism development as compared to Cyprus but both have potential for international development
- External and internal impacts- some of the external and internal impacts on rural tourism in Malta include changing climate and strategies aimed at improved marketing while the external and internal impacts in Cyprus include natural calamities and the internal market command
- Marketing and communications- in Malta, the strategies are directed towards growth of global marketing as well as packaging while the strategies in Cyprus are directed towards growth of global product offers where promotions are directed to gourmets
- Negative factors- the lack of a good definition for rural tourism in Malta could affect its growth while westernization is likely to affect the growth of rural tourism in Cyprus as it does not support a sturdy culture as the one maintained in Cyprus
- Resources- Malta suffer decreasing resources as a result of increasing population and a small land capacity while Cyprus has stable resources with opportunities for increase. Therefore, unlike Malta, Cyprus has sustainable development
Rural tourism is concerned with rural surroundings and involves both eco-tourism and agro-tourism. Globally, both Malta and Cyprus are reputable tourist attractions with numerous tourist attraction sites. Like Cyprus, Malta boasts of more than a million tourists annually (Katircioglu 2009). In Cyprus, rural tourism has been a manner of attaining social and economic growth and revival.
More characteristically, rural tourism in Cyprus has been largely encouraged as a triumphant source of revenue and employment. Nonetheless, some recent tourism destinations have resolved to rural tourism with the intention of expanding their tourism markets as well as products in an attempt to extend the advantages of tourism far from the resorts at the coast into the vicinities. Cyprus has a notably bigger land area than Malta.
Cyprus could unconstructively affect the local population in urban centres due to the shift in domination of the rural areas. Additionally, increased development of villages in Cyprus could affect economic activities in the urban places, as the rural areas will be all-inclusive. Increased pursuit of resources in rural tourism other than agro-tourism as well as changing climate could unfavourably influence demand for rural tourism in Malta.
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Appendix 1: Combined SWOT analysis
Combined SWOT analysis
Malta and Cyprus- Similarities
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