Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development of Rural Tourism in Central and Eastern European Areas: Types of Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality

Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development of Rural Tourism in Central and Eastern European Areas: Types of Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality

Adina Letitia Negrusa (Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania) and Valentin Toader (Babeș-Bolyai Univeristy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1423-8.ch011

Abstract

Starting from concepts like sustainable development, sustainable tourism development, and sustainability, the chapter introduces important strategies for assessing sustainable rural development. Also, based on OECD and Eurostat taxonomy regarding innovation, it explains the two types of innovation: product and process (production, distribution, marketing, communication, management, and product/process development). In order to answer the question “How do firms innovate?” the authors draw attention to best practices of innovation in rural tourism. The aspects that are discussed mainly, but not exclusively, focus on the creation of tailor-made products, property renovation, marketing business skills development, information technology solutions, involvement in socially responsible activities, and the use of networking and collaborative behavior. Starting from different approaches of successful innovation in rural tourism identified in the scientific literature, the chapter emphasizes relevant case studies/best practices from the Central and Eastern European areas.
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Introduction

Nowadays, in the context of sustainable tourism development, it becomes crucial for rural communities to approach this process in a sustainable manner using appropriate strategies for optimizing positive and minimizing negative impacts. The purpose of this chapter is to describe how the innovation process can contribute to the sustainable development of rural tourism. The rural environment’s sensitivity to different factors represents an additional incentive for local stakeholders to identify better ways of valorization of the areas’ endogenous resources. Thus, innovation may represent a good approach for the sustainable development of tourism.

Starting from concepts like sustainable development, sustainable tourism development, and sustainability, the chapter introduces important strategies for assessing sustainable rural development. Also, based on OECD and Eurostat taxonomy regarding innovation, it will be explained the two types of innovation: product (goods or services) and process (production, distribution, marketing, communication, management, and product/process development).

In order to answer the question “How do firms innovate?”, the authors will draw attention to best practices of innovation in rural tourism. The aspects that will be discussed mainly, but not exclusively, focus on the creation of tailor-made products, property renovation, marketing business skills development, information technology solutions, involvement in socially responsible activities or the use of networking and collaborative behavior. Starting from different approaches of successful innovation in rural tourism identified in the scientific literature, the chapter will emphasize relevant case studies/best practices from the Central and Eastern European areas.

The main purpose of rural tourism firms to invest in innovation is to improve their competitiveness. Better services lead primarily to increased customer satisfaction, achieving new target markets and raising the number of loyal clients. Furthermore, through innovation, new products and services can be created, enriching the rural tourism supply. From a different perspective, property renovation may represent an effective marketing tool to attract new markets and build a unique business identity. The innovation in rural tourism is important not only for competitive purposes but also to ensure the sustainable development of the business activity.

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