From Leisure to Pleasure: Societal Trends and Their Impact on Possible Future Scenarios for UK Rural Tourism in 2050
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With the relative recent growth of rural tourism, there is a need to understand better both the long-term societal changes along with possible future advances in technology, to ensure that rural destinations are more aware of their consumer's future tourism expectations. Existing future rural tourism studies tend to focus on the relatively short-term (in terms of future studies timescales) and often assume that the future will be a reflection/extension of today, and lack any understanding of how possible future scenarios options may influence the future development of rural tourism. The objectives of this study are 1: To explore the major social trends that are likely to influence the future of rural tourism in the UK by 2050, and 2: To examine two possible rural development scenarios resulting from such trends. Through an exploration of both futures and tourism futures literature, a number of issues will be developed over two periods: the near and to some extent the known future scenario (next 10-20 years) and the far future scenario (20-40 years). The debate/discussion about these scenarios is framed within the context of both societal trends and future technology developments and their possible impacts on the rural tourism recreation experience. In terms of the future of rural tourism, there is likely to be a shift from functional leisure activities such as walking/hunting to experience/pleasure focused activities. We may also see the development of segregated/ protected/exclusive rural tourism areas that are only available to elite tourists who can afford to pay for the experience. For the great majority of tourists, driven by land use conflicts, labour and land shortages, they may expect to see an increase in the use of technology to deliver the future rural tourism experience, but this rural experience may be in an urban environment.