The resources of the rural countryside in Europe are subject to many pressures and the difficulties arising in many rural areas somehow jeopardise the agriculture: agricultural activities are decreasing and farmers are losing importance. The consequences of a reduction or even disappearance of the agricultural activity are varied and refer to social, economic, cultural and environmental domains like the disappearance of activities and services in rural area, the loss of a rural identity or impacts on particular landscapes. Difficulties relate to the pressures exerted on farmers: pressures due to the world competition, to the evolution from the spread of suburbanisation, to the tendency of young people to leave rural life, to transport problems in the rural areas. The socio-ecological transition may be seen as a track of diversification in farming activities.
One of the solutions aiming to improve the rural economy in accordance with its natural and cultural heritages is the development of farm tourism also seen as a means for rural communities to link producers and consumers again strengthening the social capital. Agritourism is a soft form of tourism, which aims to promote the rural capital and which, by supporting the regional development, helps to improve the income of the regional population. It includes different types of accommodations (such as guest farm, bed and breakfast or camping on the farm) and multiple activities in rural areas through which the visitor has the opportunity to become acquainted with agricultural areas, agricultural occupations, local products, traditional cuisine and daily life, as well as with the cultural elements and the authentic features of the area, while showing respect for the environment and the tradition. Agritourism brings visitors closer to nature and rural activities in which they can participate. This form of tourism fits with new expectations as regards environmental, patrimonial and social matters of tourists in Europe.
The lecture compares agritourism in the Walloon Region and in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, bordering regions which share a common aim to develop both a differentiated agriculture and a sustainable agritourism. The research develops a combination of several complementary procedures and tools: international comparison, on-site investigations near the stakeholders concerned by agritourism of which agritourist offer investigations near local tenants and farmers and agritourist demand investigations to potential customers, without forget investigations near organizations and institutions that attempt to influence its development, This lecture presents a kind of economic diversification, agritourism, of farms aiming to provide a global and integrated vision. Problems encounter because of the diversity of resources (infrastructures, goods and services) and stakeholders involved in multiple relations (tourists, tour operators, host community members, various organizations, industries…) imply innovative agritourist adaptations concerned by a tourist qualitative and wellbeing search. It proposes to define the necessary characteristic of the countryside, the ressources, to develop agritourism and to examine disparities of the agritourist developement, and to establish a typology of the countryside more or less favourable to its emergence, its development and its success taking into account the various forms of agritourism in Europe. It enlightens the general question entitled “Which countrysides for which agritourisms?”. The objective is thus to think an agritourism both thought out according to the paradigm of sustainable development, and conforming to the principles the ecological economy.