The Development of Rural Tourism in Chaina: The Perspective of Travel Agencies
Chania Prefecture covers the western quarter of the island of Crete and is promoted primarily as a "sun, sea and sand" destination, rather than as an alternative tourism destination. Alternative and more specifically, rural tourism has become an important and in some cases a dominant factor in the rural economies of Mediterranean destinations. However, in Crete less attention is presently paid to the development of alternative forms of tourism, and in particular rural tourism, despite the growing interest of international visitors. The theoretical part of this study includes a brief presentation of current rural tourism development in Chania Prefecture, as well as a discussion of the literature in the fields of alternative and rural tourism. The paper presents and discusses key findings derived from research undertaken in the city of Chania and its surrounding areas, during a period of four months (June-September 2009). Approximately 50 travel agent owners/managers participated in face-to-face interviews based on a questionnaire. This paper concludes by presenting the survey's findings concerning the extent to which the local travel agencies contribute to the demand for, and therefore to the development of, alternative forms of tourism and specifically, rural tourism in Chania Prefecture.(original abstract)
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