Endogenous initiatives as a chance to improve rural livelihood? Results of a case study in Baltow, South-Eastern Poland
[Tourismus als eine Möglichkeit zur Erhöhung des ländlichen Einkommens? Ergebnisse einer Fallstudie in Bałtów, Südostpolen]
Polish rural areas, compared to other EU-25 member states, still show a high agricultural employment due to a lack of job opportunities in other rural economic sectors. In particular, in South eastern Poland the shut down of heavy industry companies in the early 1990s left many rural inhabitants only with small incomes from their peasant farms or pensions. In the communeBa?tów (South-eastern Poland) in order to counteract these developments, local development associations and a regional partnership undertook initiatives to stimulate the regional economy by creating a tourism infrastructure. This paper presents a case study, conducted in Ba?tów, which analyses local problems, development chances, and experience with local endogenous initiatives. The main results of the activities undertaken by the development associations and the partnership are seen in the creation of different tourist attractions. The latter do not only provide inhabitants with new non-agricultural jobs. They are also offering new income sources for peasants and local businesses as a result of an increased demand for accommodations and other tourist services. The successful implementation of tourist facilities was due to the involvement of local inhabitants, the presence of leader personalities, the close cooperation with the local government, and the financial engagement of a local inhabitant. Workshops, seminars, and open meetings organized by the associations led to an increasing acceptance of the initiatives by the local society. The regional partnership, which combines different local and regional associations in their ambitions to connect tourist offers, also encouraged many inhabitants to contribute to further initiatives. In 2004, the regional partnership also applied for the pilot measure to implement the EU Initiative Leader+. The tourism activities in the region around Ba?tów cannot be seen as a straight response to the incomerelated problems of the local peasant farms and the lacking structural change in agriculture, but they constitute new perspectives for local businesses and additional non-agricultural income sources for farmers.
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