In recent years all companies have tended to turn to quality in relation to the goods and provide services directly aimed at creating a competitive advantage and providing sustainable “quality” to their customers. A lot of researchers have examined the quality issue (Asubonteng et al, 1996 Babakus και Boller, 1992 Buttle, etc. Therefore, there are existing businesses seeking to comply with certain standards (e.g. national or iso) and they are certified by a third party under a standard. There have also been created at times a number of industry or professional standards in many countries for companies to “prove” compliance with the theoretical model and provide a certain level of services or products to their customers. Αccording to Varvaresos (2009), the Greek tourism development model has entered a phase of crisis since the 1990’s. It therefore seems likely that a number of distortions that characterize the present model of tourism development in the country will become more pronounced with the spread of the global financial crisis. If the Greek tourism wants to survive in international competition and to remain as a significant economic factor (income, employment) it should attempt a restructuring of the product in terms of forming a new development model. This new model should be guided by the qualitative and sustainable development of rural tourism. The success of the rural tourism enterprises depends on the exploitation of data such as current information, special offers, training in combination with the quest of competitive advantage (Pazek, Majkovic και Borec, 2005). In a competitive and constantly developing market, the quality of the providing services becomes more and more crucial for the survival of the businesses. The quality of services in rural tourism is a significant factor which is taken into account by the customers/consumers in their choice of rural tourism unit for their stay (Potocnik, 2006). Therefore, there is a clear need for estimation of the providing services in the rural tourism units; however, the problem becomes complicated due to the various services provided to the visitors. The aim of the present study is to examine the rural tourism development in Greece and to determine the five basic steps which each country should take in collaboration with the local community and the other stakeholders, in order to create the base for the rural tourism development which will be beneficial to all the stakeholders. Rural tourism in Greece has a relatively short history. Its roots can be found in various types of countryside tourism which are common in Greece and take place during religious celebrations (Christmas, Easter, local Saints days) and at the weekends.
This type of countryside tourism was renamed as“rural tourism” in the 1980s and concurred along with two crucial events. The first was the entering of Greece in the European Economic Community in 1981, which was followed by the promotion of a series of programmes for the local and rural development. The second important development was the emphasis on issues such as the equality of the sexes and the upgrade of the living conditions for the rural population, mainly of mountainous and disadvantageous areas. (Gidarakou, 1999). Rural tourism in Greece, depending on the region where it takes place, is classified into the following categories (Balamou and Psaltopoulos, 2006): Rural tourism in large agricultural operations, where the visitor stays in especially designed parts of the farm and can voluntarily take part in the agricultural or rural activities. Rural tourism in rural regions, where the visitor-tourist stays in a rented room or guest room and takes part in rural or recreation activities (hiking, climbing, etc.). Rural tourism in islands or coastal regions, where the visitor-tourist stays in simple lodgings and participates in recreation activities of the sea and the village life. Rural tourism in traditional settlements, where the visitor-tourist stays in simple traditional houses which have a local character and a different architectural aspect and are provided with local products and a variety of activities. Rural tourism in villages of special natural beauty or protected areas, which are villages or national parks close to beautiful sites (e.g. lakes, rivers, biotopes etc.) which attract the tourists because of their natural beauty. Rural tourism in corporate units which are small hotels in a friendly environment surrounded by a lot of agricultural operations which promote the cultural and natural characteristics of the region. There are many reasons which make a country like Greece to turn to Rural tourism, since the agricultural secto currently involves a percentage of 3.4% of GDP, while those employed in agriculture make up approximately 11.5% of the workforce. The Role of the agricultural sector is declining not only quantitatively but also qualitatively. The reason for this deterioration is the fact that instead of taking advantage of European aid to restructure the rural productive sector, we have been involved in a customer character distribution in agriculture (Masialos, 2010). Moreover, the educational level of farmers in relation to the level of other professions is lower; of the 663,766 employed in agriculture, there is a 69.5% rate of primary school graduates, 15% of high school graduates 1.2% of maximum degree holders. (Ministry of Rural Development and Food, Special Secretariat 2009) Rural tourism can be successful and sustainable, according to the authors, if some basic steps are followed before the development of the activity. Basic steps for sustainable rural tourism development In any business process it is necessary to have a strategic plan for an argument to be measured, evaluated and improved and, above all, be sustainable. If we would like, for example, to involve two areas in along-term planning by creating a new national product (e.g. rural tourism) it should be established on solid foundations with measurable objectives and emphasis on quality.
1. Creating a National Plan
The state in cooperation with the interested institutions should set goals in order to finance the project and oversee the process to be within the design and to provide official information. It is typically necessary to carry out a detailed investigation by the county, but not a limited one. Mapping the dynamics of the county in rural tourism
activities and characteristics (e.g., culture, tradition, environment, architecture) Mapping of local county crops and products that can support rural tourism activities. Recording every county of the potential human resources that can support rural tourism
activities. Creating “proposals” on how rural tourism units must work
2. Vocational education and training To address the major problem of the lack of training it is necessary to educate interested parties before they start dealing with rural tourism in stages:
Training of people wishing to work in the field, on legislation issues and basic principles of business development.
Training of people who will definitely take care of the area, on business planning, to know all the design parameters of a business.
Training of people who will surely deal with the field of technical marketing, management and quality issues. Informing the interested parties about the basic concepts of Marketing and management to develop the business knowing how. This dimension of quality is important as it affects both the expectations of a customer before using the service and the perception of quality of service offered through the experiences (Gilbert and Joshi, 1999). The interest of managers and employees focuses
on the need for security and satisfaction from their work; they want respect and appreciation from the client; they want to take pride in the company and are still working because the quality creates loyal customers and more tolerant to errors
Create a personal profile entrepreneur based on the company that created the knowledge acquired the deficiencies that still exist (eg foreign languages). Mainly this is a kind of evaluation of the company and the entrepreneur and referral to education. In this case, there have been at times created rules for rural tourism facilities, typically a significant effort was made through action which has received EC funding with title: Eurogites quality assessment standards for rural tourism accommodations (international level) These standards represent a common understanding of rural tourism accommodation quality as they were approved by 24 member countries of Eurogites (European Federation of Rural Tourism) at the General Assembly in 2005. The standards comprise those aspects which are present in quality schemes of all Eurogites members. The standard criteria are grouped in five clusters:
3. Services at the accommodation and in surroundings
4. Intangible aspects such as personal attention, privacy, or ambience
5. Security and safety
Create “rules” for running quality agro units and improve or review them every three years for further improvements and best practices
Monitoring of individual entrepreneurs to financial results and business development proposals over the next three years. These stages can be developed to support the activities of rural tourism and incorporate the principles of adult education which has its own particularities. The stages are defined over a horizon of five years and can be allocated to individual frequent targets in more detail to provide the greatest possible benefit.
在危機時期，可以發展出足以支持國家的不同地區。 就未來幾年將顯示增長的旅遊業而言，有必要建立堅實的基礎。 因此，我們建議分五個階段開發具有強烈培訓特色的區域，因為該部門中潛在僱員的教育水平和利益可以自己存在，通常是指旅遊區的意見學習者企業家： 培訓對象為：96％（Kepa Pierias，2005年）。 隨著行業的長期規劃和適當發展，具有強大的本地利益和鄉村發展以及其他替代旅遊業的公司肯定會長期生存。
In times of crisis different areas sufficient to support the state can develop. In the case of the tourism sector which will show growth in the coming years it is necessary to create a solid foundation. Therefore, we propose to develop the area in five stages with a strong feature of the training because the educational level of potential employees in the sector and the interest can exist by themselves, typically referred to the opinion learners entrepreneurs in tourist areas: Positive view of the training were: 96% (Kepa Pierias, 2005). With long-term planning and proper development of the industry there will certainly be long-term survival requirements of companies with strong local benefits and rural development and other alternative forms of tourism.
文/ Tamara Ratz