Sustainable Development or Integrated Rural Tourism? Considering the Overlap in Rural Development Strategies


  • Holly Barcus Macalester College


U.S. Rural development has been influenced by numerous philosophies and varies significantly by locality. As rural economies have restructured, communities have struggled to evolve and adapt their images and economies in order to survive. One approach embraced by communities is Sustainable Development. While the intricacies of sustainability and ability of communities to fully embrace sustainable development have been widely debated, communities have nonetheless sought to operationalize the concept to enhance their development prospects. More recently the concept of Integrated Rural Tourism has been promoted as a means of facilitating more holistic rural development, incorporating cultural, economic, and environmental considerations at the local scale. This paper utilizes interviews with local community members to review the process by which one upper-Midwestern community adopted and implemented sustainable development questioning whether the outcome is more reflective of an integrated rural tourism approach and seeking to better understand the conceptual and applied overlap between these two models of rural development. Keywords: Bayfield, sustainability, integrated rural tourism, rural development