Conclusion and Implications

This chapter combines a traditional with a systematic review of the academic literature, investigating urban-rural linkages and tourism, searching for theoretical perspectives and empirical realities. Despite the fact that the review is limited to the Scopus electronic database, several interesting results seem to emerge. First, the debate on urban-rural is gaining momentum even though the average number of contributions published per year is still limited. Second, although urban-rural interactions are advocated, especially in policy debates, there is little academic production on this topic. Third, research strongly focuses on empirical case studies with limited theoretical contributions. Fourth, the papers that have emerged from the combination of traditional and systematic reviews of the literature reveal that a large majority of academic production is focused on the comparison of tourism effects and tourism related issues in rural context and urban areas. These papers belong to the tourism literature, thus confirming that tourism literature has produced limited research on urban-rural interconnections and spaces (Weaver, 2005). Fifth, only a limited number of papers address the urban-rural linkages and tourism, presenting a multidisciplinary approach and outputs for further research and discussion.

The 65 papers selected showed that urban-rural linkages and tourism have been discussed by tourism literature, geography, social sciences and regional development. These disciplines have developed the urban-rural and tourism debate, with different methodologies and research focuses. The most frequent issues that have been investigated within the urban- rural and tourism were rural, urban and fringe spaces, residents, visitors, communities living in those spaces and tourism related activities. A few cases of urban-rural partnerships in tourism were analysed in the literature, among which some focused on the combination of recreation, culture and agriculture in an integrated way towards a new tourist offer development, multi-governance support and managerial enhancement.

The literature review has clearly highlighted a paucity in linking rural tourism with urban tourism and in linking rural, urban and tourism issues. The results confirm that little attention has been given to tourism and urban-rural discussions, thus identifying gaps in both tourism literature and other social sciences, leaving room for further research. Tourism literature has rarely discussed urban-rural linkages in tourism, and social sciences have seldom addressed the potential of tourism’s role in linking rural and urban.

Despite the limited contribution, the literature confirmed the great mutual benefit for both rural and urban areas deriving from socio-economic linkages and integrated planning policies. Furthermore, there is evidence that urban-rural partnerships enhance tourism activities (joint product and service based on complementarities can enhance tourism experiences) and vice versa. Tourism within the flow of people, knowledge and income affects urban-rural linkages in both directions: from rural to urban and from urban to rural.

The research has limitations. It was meant to be an extensive literature review, which means it will need to be expanded in the future, searching in Web of Science and Google Scholar databases and cross-referencing the results with relevant research contributions in the top journals. Therefore, additional research is needed to enhance the present literature review to a comprehensive level. Nevertheless, the present chapter has provided an overview of the most relevant publications discussing the urban-rural and tourism relationship by performing the first literature review in urban- rural linkages and tourism, combining traditional and systematic tools.

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