Rural areas contribute to the cultural and natural diversity of the Maltese Islands, and offer a unique recreational facility that is much sought after by both locals and foreign tourists. This is even more so in a country where as a result of the high population density and limited land space, rural areas offer a means of escape and tranquility compared to the stresses and chaotic environment associated with urban centres. Rural villages possess a wealth of cultural and archaeological heritage that gives them a distinct character to the urban and more modern environment.
Rural areas are in fact becoming increasingly popular as a residential destination, however, the employment base of the vast majority of residents of rural localities is still within the urban areas. Therefore, economic activities that maximise the potential of the rural heritage and that capitalise on this heritage for economic purposes are few, if any. The major issue is therefore not one of a risk of depopulation of the rural areas, but rather of the absence or limited economic activities in these areas, both in terms of number and variety.
The encouragement of rural tourism, in a broad sense including cultural tourism, ecotourism and agri- tourism, would offer support for individual initiatives that build on the traditional, cultural and natural heritage of rural areas. As a result of the flourishing of such initiatives, the tourism product offered would become more varied and activities in rural areas would diversify into high value added economically sustainable activities. Encouragement of tourism in rural areas would rekindle entrepreneurial activities, lead to diversification, growth and employment in rural areas, and contribute to a better territorial balance.
This measure will address the need for recreation and tourism through the creation of recreational infrastructure, information and interpretation facilities, which provide rewarding experience and memento to visiting tourists. The overall effect of the initiatives undertaken through this measure shall create an increased awareness of local rural resources and the need for their conservation, for future generations and for an improvement in the quality of life for all.
Scope and Objectives of this Measure
The scope of Measure 313 is to promote economic growth and rural heritage as a tourist product in rural areas. Support shall be applicable to actions that encourage tourist activities in rural areas in Malta and Gozo directed to making the region more attractive. The scope of this Measure shall cover actions that exploit the context provided by the rural environment itself, and that make use of this environment as a backdrop for the promotion of the rural service or product.
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