Approximately 74% of all EU land mass in EU28 countries is classified as ‘rural area’ according to the degree of urbanization classification of Eurostat on municipal level. Rural regions have a population of approximately 97 Mio. inhabitants, which is 21% of the total population. (Eurostat, 2021) Rural regions show in some cases relevant positive effect on eco-system services, rich bio-diversity, local products, cultural heritage, touristic facilities, so ideals to reach with them the UN SDGs.
Despite their rich developmental potential, rural and remote regions are often neglected by EU policies – often marginalized by urban-centered economies and over-exploited in their natural resources. As a consequence of a city-driven and industrial modernization, they experienced enduring depopulation processes, leading to loss of power for local communities, brain drain and demographic ageing. The sentiments of people in these ‘places that don’t matter’ (Rodriguez Pose, 2018) risk direct into a negative curve.
The goal of the paper is to fill the gap in the rural territorial development issue searching a - solid but strong enough -place for local monuments. and introduce them more into planification system tourism as a possible “tool” to create added value in rural territories for tourist and for the territory as well, through inhabitants. The author’s aim is to show through two case studies (French and Hungarian) how rural areas are able to strengthen their territory using cultural geographical approach in creative way as a tool. Using qualitative research method in rural territory, we can see the obstacles and facilities of a special participative tourism planning step by step.
Creative thinking based on cultural heritage approach can empower the population “left behind” in remote and rural regions. Thinking differently on rural remote territories can give the possibility to strengthen their economical weight through their creativity and through new form of tourism.
Keywords: tangible heritage|rural territories|territorial development|cultural geographical approach|participative planning