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Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Development. Case Study: Southern Moravia

Department of Applied and Landscape Ecology, Mendel University in Brno, Brno 61300, Czech Republic
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9064;
Submission received: 13 October 2020 / Revised: 23 October 2020 / Accepted: 29 October 2020 / Published: 31 October 2020


The main aim of the study was to find out whether cultural tourism could be a driver of rural development in the selected area and in general. In case yes, to what extent and under what conditions. Three districts in the South-Moravian Region, Znojmo, Břeclav, and Hodonín, situated in the rural borderland with Austria and Slovakia represented the study area. Both geographical and sociological methods were used to gather evidence for cultural tourism in that study. Firstly, attractiveness analysis of the area defined for cultural tourism took place. Next, factors influencing the potential for cultural tourism affecting rural development in South Moravia were evaluated. Finally, synergistic relations were discussed. In the territory, many forms of tourism intersect. Based on the results, it can be stated that cultural tourism can hardly be the main driver of rural development after the decline of agriculture because the region’s economy has branched out in several directions. However, it can be an important complementary activity that yields both economic and non-economic benefits.

1. Introduction

The fertile lowlands of Southern Moravia have always been considered a rich country. Sufficient harvests once ensured that farmers in the region experienced few existential or economic problems. However, the situation is changing as agricultural production becomes less decisive for the economic success of the region. Intensively cultivated, flat, lowland landscapes with monocultures are not attractive for purposes of landscape consumption. Attention is instead shifting to mountain areas with rugged reliefs, fierce water streams, and mosaics for various land uses. Considering these changes, what activities might substitute agriculture to maintain economic vitality in lowland regions?
In general, tourism expresses post-productive development in rural areas. Due to the lower attractiveness of lowland nature, cultural tourism could play a role in the economic prosperity of these post-productive, rural areas. The attractiveness of a region for cultural tourism development does not depend so much on natural beauties but instead lies in the history and intersections of cultures in a region, which was intensive in the lowlands.
There are many aspects connected with cultural tourism that relate to space and time, including the attractiveness of an area for cultural tourism, suitable infrastructure, the preparedness of a territory and its people to use the presuppositions and role of public administration, information, marketing and advertising, the economy of cultural tourism (public/private partnership), the relation of cultural tourism to other branches, and limiting tourist exploitation of the territory.
The importance of cultural tourism does not only lie in the economic benefits received by a region. Cultural tourism can play an important role in learning about the people and customs in different regions and countries, which is one of the preconditions for creating a common European identity. Rural tourism is sometimes understood as a return to nature. Similarly, cultural tourism can be seen as a return to historical roots—personal, ethnic, or entire civilizations [1]. This role of cultural tourism is currently confronted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly reduced tourism possibilities.

2. Theory and Research Questions

According to the World Travel Organization, tourism consists of travelling to and staying in places outside of one’s usual milieu for a period no longer than one year, for leisure, business, or other activities that do not relate to the gainful activity of the tourist in the place visited. Tourism can be divided as follows:
  • Recreational tourism is aimed at the regeneration of physical and mental facilities.
  • Cultural tourism stems from the desire to explore a location’s history, cultural history, natural beauties, and educational resources.
  • Sports tourism is focused primarily on physical activities.
  • Spa and wellness tourism is connected to health care, prevention, or convalescence.
  • Tourism may also involve travelling for business, including attending scientific and other technical symposia or pursuing secondary housing.
While all these types of tourism blend and complement one another, our approach focuses solely on cultural tourism. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, ‘Cultural tourism is a type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination’. Richards [2] suggests that cultural tourism differs from other branches of tourism in its cognitive function. There are many other terms used in this field such as heritage tourism, art tourism, and ethnic tourism. Cultural tourism is especially complex because every destination has specific cultures and traditions, and it is difficult for outsiders (whether academics or tourists) to fully understand them [3]. Cultural tourism research has grown rapidly, particularly in fields like cultural consumption, cultural motivations, heritage conservation, cultural tourism economics, anthropology, and the relationship with the creative economy [4]. Additionally, recent years have seen the interaction between culture and tourism deepen [5].
Due to its relatively wide definition, there are many forms of rural cultural tourism, that may be considered, such as architectonical and historical heritage [6] including battlefield and other memorial tourism [7], visits to museums of different types including open-air museums and archaeological sites [8] gastronomy [9] and beverage [10] tourism; pilgrimage tourism [11] including visits to important churches and church memorials; ethnography tourism [12] and intangible heritage [13] including folklore and folk culture, participation in festivals or cultural events of different types [14] visiting places, where important novels took place or movies were made [15]; and nostalgia tourism [16].
Rural areas have different conditions for the development of cultural tourism. They have fewer cultural facilities such as theatres, museums, art galleries, and historical buildings, but often possess more natural heritage. Besides, rural areas were subjected to globalisation trends later than cities and, in many cases, they have retained an ethnographic cultural heritage that can be restored or imitated.
Natural tourism is sometimes contrasted with cultural tourism (cultural and nature tourism). However, if tourism focused on natural values fulfils the condition of cognitive function (especially in protected areas), it can be considered a form of cultural tourism. According to Esfahani and Albrecht [17], natural tourism can have three roles: First, a source of attraction and addition to any tourism offerings; second, a conservation tool, especially where the natural environment has strong cultural meanings for the local community; and third, a driver for facilitating culturally and naturally sensitive behaviour among visitors.
Defining rural development is extremely difficult [18]. Traditionally, development has been related to quantitative growth; however, this definition does not suit rural areas in post-productive stages. Additional preliminary, qualitative aspects should be added, including amenity-based development, freedom, and social networks. Rural development should be attractive, innovative, and developed while maintaining sustainability (the generally known three pillars) and continuity in terms of maintaining rural character and identity [19]. Recently, there has even been a conversation regarding smart rural development [20].
The main research question is as follows: Could cultural tourism be a driver of rural development in the area under study, and in general? To what extent? Under what conditions? What are the main barriers to its development?

3. Methodology and the Region under Study

Both geographical and sociological methods were used to gather evidence for cultural tourism in the study region. Data were taken from official sources of the Czech Statistical Office, Czech Tourism Agency, and other public sources. Secondary sources were also used for the completion of this research. As part of the SPOT project of the European HORIZON 2020 program, a questionnaire survey was conducted in the region, focusing on residents, visitors, and tourism providers. Each group was represented by 40 respondents. In this way, we tried to confront objective data with subjective opinions. The tourism industry is highly dependent on the subjective opinions of all involved. Sociological research was carried out at the end of summer 2020, i.e., at the time when the first wave of COVID-19 quarantine ended and the second wave began (the ethics was approved by the Ethics Board at the Mendel University in Brno). This may have influenced the opinions of the respondents.
The procedure begins with an attractiveness analysis of the area defined for cultural tourism. Next, factors influencing the potential for cultural tourism to influence rural development in South Moravia are evaluated. Finally, synergistic relations are discussed.
The study area consists of three administrative districts (NUTS 4) in the South Moravian Region (NUTS 3): Znojmo, Břeclav, and Hodonín (Figure 1), which are approximately 3700 km2 in area and contain about 384,000 inhabitants. The territory belongs mainly to the Vienna basin, particularly the Czech portion called Lower Morava Vale. The limestone cliffs of the Pavlovské vrchy Hills dominate the landscape, while the river valleys of Morava, Dyje, Svratka, and others are flanked by lowland hills with erosion-accumulating surfaces. The most eastern part of the area is bounded by the White Carpathian Mountains. From a biogeographical viewpoint, the area manifests a border between the Pannonian and Hercynian provinces. Two large water reservoirs—Vranov and Nové Mlýny—complete the water system of the region. The territory is relatively accessible from national capitals Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, and Budapest.
The settlement system consists of three medium-sized district towns: Znojmo (33,700 inhabitants; end of 2017), Hodonín (24,700 inhabitants), and Břeclav (24,800 inhabitants). The urban structure is completed by a relatively dense structure of small towns, each containing 2000–12,000 inhabitants. Small towns are missing only in the westernmost area, which is probably the main reason for its peripherality. The countryside consists of 246 municipalities, each with fewer than 2000 inhabitants. Of them, 43 municipalities have fewer than 200 inhabitants, most of which are in the westernmost area, whereas the same number is formed by municipalities with more than 1000 residents. The regional metropolis, Brno (population 381,300), is clearly the superior centre for the region. Relations with Vienna were disrupted during the last century.
Most of the region enjoys high quality, fertile soils (chernozems), and conditions are suitable for fruit and vine growing. Lignite mining has ended and the only remaining mining in the area is for crude oil of the best quality and gas in Czechia. Due to excellent conditions for agriculture, the area was industrialised relatively late, with some exclusions (e.g., power generation in Hodonín and the chemical industry in Břeclav). The food industry also manifests an exclusion.
The southern parts of districts Znojmo and Břeclav had been settled primarily by ethnic Germans since the Middle Ages. After WWII, most Germans were evacuated, and the territory has been resettled by Slavonic people. As a result, historical continuity was disrupted. Antošová [21] shows specific tourist developments in the Czech borderland through the example of the Liberec region. On the other side, the south-eastern part of the Hodonín district was a border territory between the Czech and Hungarian kingdoms for about 1000 years and has unified only twice, for relatively short periods from 1918 to 1938 and from 1944 to 1992.

4. Results

Tourism in the South-Moravian Region (NUTS 3) was initially mapped by Šťastná et al. [22]. Our paper focuses on the southern part of the territory without the city of Brno, which is, of course, the main attraction and infrastructural base of tourism in Moravia. However, three of five tourist areas in the South-Moravian Region are situated in the study territory: The Znojmo and Dyje valley area, the Pavlovské vrchy hills and Lednice-Valtice area, and Moravian Slovakia. In 2019, 931,000 visitors were accommodated in these three tourism regions, of which 79% were domestic. These visitors spent 2,019,000 nights here. For comparison, 992,000 visitors stayed in Brno and spent 1,778,000 nights, of which 49% were foreigners (Czech Statistical Office Prague).

4.1. Main Attractions for Cultural Tourism in the Area

Architectonical and historical heritage in the region is represented by a set of castles (or their ruins) and chateaus. There are more than 70 such tangible heritage seats in the three-district territory, meaning that the average distance between them is more than 7 km. Bítov is the best-known and kept castle, whereas Vranov and Dyjí (Figure 2), Mikulov, Valtice, Lednice, Milotice, or Strážnice number among the best-known and most visited chateaus. The named architectonical monuments belong to the state and are accessible, according to the rules for the state cultural heritage. Some of them host state institutions like the National Institute of Folk Culture in Strážnice. Parks in English or French styles usually belong to individual chateaus. The ruins of castles (Cornštejn or Dívčí hrad belong to the best known) are accessible without any limitations. Other buildings are private and serve different purposes (e.g., a hotel in former Templar castle Čejkovice). Some objects are under reconstruction. There are four rural memorial zones protecting folk architecture in the region. Wine cellars are typical constructions in the area and are most concentrated in Petrov village.
Natural heritage is represented by the National Park, Podyjí, protected landscape areas Pálava (Pavlovské vrchy hills), Bílé Karpaty (White Carpathians Mountains), the UNESCO biosphere reserve, Dolní Morava (Lower Morava), and numerous small nature reserves. The landscape of the Lednice-Valtice area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are various other natural beauties and values in addition to those listed. Although the region has below-average forested areas (22%), it contains valuable floodplain forests in the confluence of the Morava and Dyje rivers.
The best-known archaeological seat is probably the mammoth hunters’ housing estate in Dolní Věstonice. A local museum presents the female ‘Venus of Věstonice’ ceramic sculpture, dated to 29,000 to 25,000 BCE. Recently, Pavlov archaeopark was created to show the life of mammoth hunters in the Pavlovské vrchy Hills. Another important archaeological site is found in Mikulčice archaeopark, which contains a Slavonic settlement from the Great Moravian Empire (eighth to tenth centuries, CE) period.
Southern Moravia contains the more religious parts of Czechia. Churches, calvaries, and small church objects form an important part of the South Moravian landscape, though many of them hold only local importance; however, others might number among attractions for cultural tourism. Pilgrimage destinations include St. Anthony in Blatnice pod Svatým Antonínkem, Calvary in Mikulov, and St. Ann in Žarošice. In total, 187 churches (mostly Christian-Catholic) are registered in the area. Jewish heritage is situated mostly in small towns where Jews settled after their expulsion from royal cities in the 15th century. The best-known concentration of Jewish memorials is in Mikulov.
The Slav Epic represents a special case of cultural heritage. It is a set of 20 large canvases painted by Alfons Mucha in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century. The work displays the history of Czech and other Slavonic nations and was at one time saved and exhibited in Moravský Krumlov Chateau (Figure 3). At present, there is a dispute between Prague and Moravský Krumlov over where the work should be located.
Gastronomy tourism is represented by the area’s vineyard culture [23] which accounts for most Czech vineyards and cover 16,700 ha, or 4.5% of the area (Figure 4). Moravian vinery is the only branch of agriculture that offers a complete circle of services, from vine growing, wine production and marketing, to services including accommodations. The infrastructure is increasingly being used for conference tourism and team-building events.
Vineyard culture is closely connected with folklore and includes songs, dances, paintings, costumes, and habits (Figure 5). The male folk dance Verbuňk is a part of the intangible UNESCO World Heritage practices. There are many folklore festivals in the region, including the best-known International Folkloric Festival Strážnice—the oldest event of this type in Europe. In 2019, 150 ensembles from Czechia and six additional countries with 1700 performers participated in the festival. The landscape of South Moravia, with vineyards and dominant Pavlovské vrchy hills over the Nové Mlýny water reservoir, is an attractive scene for movies and TV series, especially those with a wine theme. However, it seems that the attractiveness lies primarily in the landscape itself and its value as movie scenery is secondary.
Militaria in the area relates to twentieth-century history. There are light fortification objects on the border, which were built before WWII against Nazi Germany. Newer history is represented by the Iron Curtain memorial in Čížov. Technical monuments include windmills in Lesná and Kuželov and the Baťa Canal, which is directly used for cultural tourism (Figure 6). The canal was built by the Baťa company in the 1930s to transport coal from Hodonín to Baťa’s factories in Zlín and Otrokovice.

4.2. Infrastructure for Cultural Tourism

Proper infrastructure forms the basis for tourism development and the utilisation of existing destination resources [24]. It is one of the main factors of competition ability - especially in countries where the service sector is underdeveloped.
The infrastructure for tourism consists of transportation, accommodation and gastronomy facilities, information centres, and other equipment. The main centres of Southern Moravia are easily accessible by the terrestrial transport. Europe’s main railway corridors from the northwest (Hamburg), southeast (Bucharest), north (Warsaw), and south (Vienna–Rome) cross in Břeclav, which is one of the main railway junctions in central Europe. The D2 highway (Brno–Bratislava) and high-speed communication R52 (Brno–Vienna) ensure accessibility via road transportation (Brno is distanced 40 min from Mikulov, the border with Austria). The closest major airports are in Vienna and Bratislava (about 75 and 60 min from Brno, respectively). The whole territory is covered by the Integrated Transport System of the South-Moravian Region, ensuring regular and frequent public transport into each inhabited place in the area. Due to its flat terrain, cycling transport has also developed. However, the conditions of some roads and railways are poor due to the past underestimation of their maintenance.
There are 510 collective accommodation establishments with 8160 rooms and 21,987 beds (2018) registered in the area, which are situated in the district’s towns, in the vicinity of water reservoirs and in vine-growing areas. Most of these facilities fall into a lower category, but tourist demand for quality is increasing and the respective level of services necessary for maintaining hygienic and social standards is important for soft tourists. Among rural communities, the biggest concentrations of beds are found in Lednice (Lednice-Valtice area, 1225 beds), Pasohlávky (Aqualand Moravia, 993), Štítary (867), Vranov nad Dyjí (832), and Bítov (630). The last three are situated in the vicinity of the Vranov water reservoir.
There are three types of tourist information centres in the area. Information centres in towns generally focus on the complex tourist offerings in a town and its surrounding villages. Information centres in villages most often focus on wine tourism. There are also specialised tourist information centres focusing on the National Park, Podyjí, the protected landscape area of the White Carpathian Mountains, or the Baťa channel. In the digital era, internet information and reservation systems are decisive. There are neither problems with coverage nor access to the internet. However, the creation, updating, and connectivity of web pages should be substantially improved. In any case, smart tourism represents a challenge for cultural tourism [25].
General services for the local population that are used by tourists are also important (e.g., retail shops, health care facilities, and personal services). These facilities not only ensure tourists´ necessities but also mediate relations between tourists and local people, which are necessary for an illustration of the culture in the region. In the central and eastern parts of the region with large villages and good accessibility in small towns, general services are sufficiently ensured as a rule. In the small villages of the western part, the situation is less favourable.

4.3. Human and Institutional Factors for the Development of Cultural Tourism

The human factor, organisational and information support, marketing, and institutional support are essential prerequisites for the successful realisation of tourism. The people who serve in the tourism industry are usually the first and thus one of the most important factors for the success of a branch [26].
The human factor in rural areas is usually poorly trained for offering proper services for tourists [27]. This concern extends beyond education levels, which are oriented more for productive branches of the economy. The motivations of providers were impacted also by the underestimation of services during the communist regime, which did not train people for services; this deficiency has gradually been improved. Another issue is that salaries in accommodation and gastronomy are the lowest of all economical branches on the national level, which, in the third quarter of 2019, were only 60% of the national average (in the comparison, incomes in agriculture, forestry and fishery were 83% of the national average) (Czech Statistical Office Prague).
Aside from service providers, the relation of the local population to tourist development is important. The problem could consist of an ageing rural population—especially in the smallest villages where seniors do not depend on the local economy and tourism might cause a disturbance when it surpasses acceptable levels. Within the sociological survey, locals reported that the annual number of tourists visiting the surveyed site is very high (40%), high (27.5%), average (20%), and low (12.5%). According to them, the impact of cultural tourism on individual areas (infrastructure, employment, quality of life) can be considered positive (80%), average (17.5%), and negative (2.5%). The impact of tourism on local customs and traditions is similarly assessed, with 62.5% of respondents considering the impact to be positive, 27.5% to be neutral, and 10% negative. As many as 75% of respondents would recommend a visit to the site to their acquaintances, 17.5% would respond neutrally, and 7.5% would not recommend a visit to the site. More than half (65%) of the respondents answered that they often give tourists tips on cultural monuments/events, 17.5% sometimes, 12.5% very little, and 5% never. One-fifth of respondents (20%) often received some discounts/better prices for local cultural attractions/events as a local citizen, less than a fifth said that sometimes (17.5%) and few (17.5%), and almost half did not receive better prices or discounts (45%). Within the evaluation of the accessibility of the examined locality, half of the respondents rated the overall accessibility of the locality from the outside as excellent, as very good (27.5%), and as average (17.5%), and the rest of the respondents did not evaluate. One-third of respondents (35%) consider the possibility of travelling within the locality as excellent, another third (32.5%) as very good, one-fifth (20%) as average, 10% as below average, and 2.5% of respondents did not express themselves.
Organisational support is provided by the Tourist Authority of Southern Moravia. Its strategy is based on relieving the burden on the most attractive places and more evenly distributing tourism in the region (Centrála cestovního ruchu jižní Moravy Its activity consists of collaborating with providers, developing human resources, creating a unified offer and presenting Southern Moravia as a tourist region. On the micro-regional level, local action groups from the LEADER programme and voluntary associations from communities play an important role. Most consider the support of tourism for one of their strategic goals. There are 10 LAGs and 18 voluntary associations within communities in the study territory.
On the local level, destination management is the key tool of tourism development. A destination must be seen as a complex and interconnected product of tourism consisting of goods, services, natural resources, artificially created attractions, and information [28]. According to Holešinská and Bobková [29], the concept of destination governance is based on cooperation between actors from both the public and private sectors. If a strategy is aimed at motivating tourists to spend more time in an area—at least overnight, and optimally a whole holiday—it is necessary to offer a destination as a complex package that includes not only different sorts of cultural tourism but also attractions like physical activities, wellness, entertainment, and recreation.
The Free Federal Republic of Cow Hill, in the territory of the voluntary association of communes called the Blue Mountains Region, provides an example of a successful marketing destination strategy. It originated in Bořetice Village (1300 inhabitants) and offers not only complex wine tourism, but also a sporting area in Němčičky with the lowest alpine skiing area in continental Europe, ethnographic museums in Kobylí and Vrbice, a skatepark, tracks for hippo-tourism and bike-tourism, a salt cave, and lookout towers in Bořetice and Velké Pavlovice. The destination offers 280 vine cellars and 28 public accommodation facilities with 834 beds.

4.4. Consumers of Cultural Tourism

Tourism lies on top of Maslow´s Pyramid. However, basic lines in the pyramid are successfully satisfied for a big part of the contemporary European population, which evokes a strong demand for tourism. Crompton [30] identified nine tourist motives, seven of which are socio-psychological (going away from or pushing) and two that are cultural (going towards or pulling).
Cultural tourists are defined as persons who are motivated to travel by or are interested in cultural resources and destinations. However, culture is not always their main motivation [31]. According to Richards [32], consumers of cultural tourism originate from the so-called ‘new middle class’. Later, Richards [33] states that cultural tourists are well-educated, work in management-level professions, and are relatively young. Some authors disagree. Özel and Kozak [34] do not consider education as the main characteristic of cultural tourists and Alén et al. [35] highlight seniors as cultural tourists.
Recently, the so-called staycation, which refers to visiting areas in one´s own region, has developed [36]. Getting to know one’s surroundings in a narrower or wider sense is often focused on the sphere of cultural tourism. Czechs have largely satisfied their hunger for exploring foreign countries, which were considerably reduced under the communist regime, and are beginning to turn their attention to their own country and region.
Additionally, as Navrátil et al. [37] have discovered, interests in individual types of cultural attractions differ according to demographic factors. Jindrová a Dömeová [38] divide Czech rural tourists into three categories: Traditional, active, and passive. Of these, the traditional is most interested in cultural tourism. In Czechia, it was not supposed that cultural tourism would attract rich people—except perhaps for the Lednice-Valtice area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage area. The prices, level of services and possible benefits must reflect these circumstances.
In the survey, a third of respondents (35%) said that their previous experience of visiting the site was better. Less than a third (30%) do not see any difference, a third (32.5%) state that they cannot assess it, and 2.5% of respondents state that the current experience with visiting the site is better. This is probably associated with limitations at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty perceent of reviewers also visited nearby locations during the holidays, and 20% also neighbouring countries. The estimated costs per person per day of stay in the destination of interest (including accommodation costs) amounted to 1000–2000 CZK (approximately €40–80 EUR). A quarter of respondents rated the overall accessibility of the site from the outside as excellent, as very good (40%), good (37.5%), and as average (15%), problematic (5%), and very problematic (2.5%). One-third of respondents (37.5%) consider the possibilities of travel within the locality to be excellent, a quarter of respondents (25%) to be very good, a fifth (20%) to be average, 10% to be problematic, 2.5% to be very problematic, and 5% of respondents did not comment. More than a third of respondents (37.5%) would highly recommend a site visit, another third (37.5%) would recommend a site visit to their friends, 17.5% answered neutrally, 5% would rather not recommend a site visit, and 2.5% would not recommend a visit.

4.5. Relations to Other Tourism Branches, Economic Branches and Regions

Cultural tourists are either targeted for a specific cultural aim or they consume cultural attractions during a widely oriented, long-term holiday stay, where cultural tourism could be a primary or secondary activity. For tourists who intend to spend a longer time in a territory, the offer of additional tourist attractions is extremely important. For the summer season, water recreation is important. The area under study contains water reservoirs Vranov and Nové Mlýny and the Baťa channel. For all these water attractions, recreational boat transportation is operating. There are almost no conditions for winter recreation in the region, except in the White Carpathian Mountains and the alpine skiing area in Němčičky. Spas and wellness centres in Hodonín, Lednice, and Pasohlávky are included among important attractions for tourism. Consequently, despite lacking favourable conditions for other types of recreation, the region has recently expanded its capacity for complementary tourism.
The study region records a relatively high unemployment rate (November 2019, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs). Only in easily accessible central areas does the unemployment rate fall under 3%. The peripheral eastern and western parts have unemployment rates of 3% to 4%, and in the extreme case of Vranov nad Dyjí, unemployment reaches 5.5%. Due to the qualification structure of the people and difficult accessibility in peripheral micro-regions, any localisation of bigger activities from other branches is not probable. In these territories, tourism has yet to become a necessary part of the economy.
Currently, local tourism is confronted with the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic. Restrictions on international tourism have caused economic losses for destinations that were mainly dependent on foreign tourists. In contrast, most rural regions are targeted by domestic tourism, which has experienced a major boom in 2020. The number of overnight stays by domestic tourists in hotels in the summer of 2020 increased by 18% from 2019. The share of domestic tourists increased from 36% in 2019 to 71% in 2020 (Czech Tourism Agency, Marketing Information System). The question is how many domestic tourists will remain loyal to domestic destinations after the epidemic subsides, and whether rural regions will be able to attract foreign tourists who can appreciate the relative security of South Moravian destinations.
Eighty-five percent of surveyed tourism entrepreneurs report a negative impact of anti-COVID-19 measures. The problems manifested themselves in a reduction in the number of reservations (72.5%), renunciation of shares (72.5%), or even in the (temporary) closure of the company (65%). Measures taken include, in particular, targeting regular customers (80%), improving digital services (65%), or exploring new markets (54%). In the area of personnel policy, entrepreneurs resorted to non-recruitment of seasonal temporary workers (70%), dismissal (42.5%), or transfer of workers to another activity (37.5%). The state helped with financial assistance (72.5%), loans (22.5%), and counselling (20%). In terms of business perspectives, providers are divided into roughly three groups of the same size. One estimates the viability of its business at six months, a third for a shorter period, and 27.5% intends to last more than a year.
Due to its borderland position, the question of trans-border collaboration in cultural tourism arises. It could include tourist visits from neighbouring countries or collaboration in forming double-sided tourism as a joint offer. Some barriers to trans-border tourism are shown by Stoffelen et al. [39]. In this area, trans-border collaborations are present in protected nature areas. The national park, Podyjí, as well as the protected landscape area in the White Carpathian Mountains, have counterparts on the opposite side of the border. Although there are attractive places in regions bordering Austria and Slovakia, trans-border transport is underdeveloped. Only the Austrian towns Laa an der Thaya and Retz, and the Slovak towns Senica and Holíč, are connected to the Integrated Transport System of the South-Moravian Region.

5. Discussion: Pros and Cons of Cultural Tourism for Rural Development

From a regional viewpoint, the attractiveness of cultural tourism is distributed relatively equally in the study region. In other words, in any place in the region, attractive elements can be found. Among the most important barriers to cultural tourism development in rural areas, lack of financial resources, and collaboration among providers, local authorities, and other stakeholders stand out [40]. Additionally, the maintenance of tangible cultural heritage in the Czech countryside has long been underestimated [41].
The Programme of Tourism Development for 2014–2020 [42] marks the main strengths of tourism in the South-Moravian region as high satisfaction and return of tourists, good environmental and order levels, good hospitality from local people, and good information levels. Among weaknesses, the following can be named: Problems in transportation infrastructure, including parking; higher price levels; and the dominance of facultative trips without any accommodation in the area. Surprisingly, the seasonal character of tourism was not named in the programme.
In the study region, 5.16% of economically active people are employed in agriculture, forestry, and fishery (which is more than double the national average). Next, 36.61% of people work in industry and construction, and the remaining 58.23% are engaged in the service industry. Those working in the hospitality sector like food and beverage service activities (which relate to tourism) account for 3.47% of active workers. Neither agriculture nor tourism is important for the job market. The region also has one of the highest unemployment rates in Czechia, reaching 5.2% in the Znojmo district, and 4.7% in the Hodonín district (end of 2019) (Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs). Reducing unemployment in the region to the national average (2.9%) would require about 1700 jobs in the tourism industry. However, doing so is evidently not important from the viewpoint of rural development because the main sectors ensuring jobs are industry, construction, social services, and retail.
If one considers the impact of cultural tourism on rural development, one must inquire into the economy of culture and tourism, especially in a situation where a large part of a sector must be subsidised. Tourism boosts primary, secondary, and tertiary industries [43]. Theoretically, it directly increases sales revenue for tourism-related businesses, stimulates local production, creates new jobs and investment opportunities, and increases government revenues through taxation. However, these benefits are usually connected with growth in the number of tourists who create pressure on the economic, social, and environmental milieu. Thus, questions of sustainability or over-tourism arise.
Frey [44] concludes his analysis of the economics of culture and art, including cultural tourism, by stating that culture makes people happy. It follows that non-economic contributions to cultural tourism and rural development should also be considered. Unlike other sectors of tourism, cultural tourism has one peculiarity—it can be operated online. Although this form does not bring financial resources to the region, it can at least partially fulfil a non-economic function.
McKarcher [45] divides cultural tourists into five groups: (1) Purposeful cultural tourists for whom cultural tourism and deep cultural experience are the primary motives for visiting a destination; (2) sightseeing cultural tourists for whom cultural tourism is a primary or major reason for visiting a destination, but for whom the experience is more shallow; (3) serendipitous cultural tourists are tourists who do not travel for cultural tourism reasons, but who, after participating, end up having deep cultural tourism experiences; (4) casual cultural tourists for whom cultural tourism is a weak motivator for visiting a destination and the resultant experience is shallow; and (5) incidental cultural tourists who do not travel for cultural tourism, but who nevertheless participate in cultural activities and have shallow experiences. Each of these groups likely requires a different approach from providers who must identify which groups to focus on and how to attract them.
Only certain attractions can attract visitors. Thus, it is necessary to offer individual destinations as a whole. This approach asks for close collaboration between tourism providers, local administrations, and other subjects. Theoretically, LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs) create a suitable organisational basis for collaboration—at least from the viewpoints of their organisational structure, territorial compatibility, and bottom-up approach [46]. Most LAGs have set tourism as one of their main activity targets. However, if LAGs are primarily perceived as a tool for obtaining subsidies, their main objective, which is the cooperation of entities in the territory, will not be met.
Rural tourism is based on small- and medium-sized enterprises. This means, among other things, that operational management (solving day-to-day situations) usually prevails over strategic management [47]. Therefore, the destination managements of areas (DMO) that are established in the above-mentioned five areas of tourism in the South Moravian Region are important. Their task is to coordinate the cooperation of individual tourism entities and the joint promotion of their regions, and to design tools for tourism support in cooperation with the South Moravia Tourist Board, which covers tourism support for the entire region.
Entrepreneurs in tourism are focused primarily on adult visitors and families. At the same time, 60% of them prefer the summer season. For 90% of providers, the majority of income comes from domestic tourism. Entrepreneurs generally evaluate the cultural tourism segment as beneficial (about two-thirds of entrepreneurs in individual aspects of cultural tourism). Visitors’ interest in cultural tourism is between 60 and 75%. Entrepreneurs themselves offer gastronomic specialities, cultural heritage, music, and other aspects of folklore. Most entrepreneurs would welcome greater state support in the development of tourism, and only 17.5% of entrepreneurs would welcome its regulation. Entrepreneurs see the improvement of conditions for the development of cultural tourism in the improvement of the condition of local roads (40%), in the provision of information (27.5%), and the improvement of marketing (25%).

6. Conclusions

One of the key issues in this paper is the role of cultural tourism in the development of the South Moravian countryside. Cultural tourism is certainly not the main tourist branch of the Czech or South Moravian countryside. The largest accommodation capacity and frequency of attendance are concentrated in second homes. According to the 2011 census, there are 11,000 unoccupied flats in the South Moravian region used for recreation. Kubeš [48] lists more than 12,500 holiday cottages in only the three most important recreational areas of the region. However, it is clear that this type of tourism contributes to rural development only secondarily through the maintenance of buildings or the consumption of local services.
All five destination areas of tourism management list the attractions of cultural tourism (defined by the cognitive function) among the main motives for the development of tourism. The attractions of other types rather complement cultural tourism and expand its possibilities. It could follow that if tourism is a driver of rural development, it is usually cultural tourism that plays a significant role in this. Many of these attractions are, of course, located in cities. Unlike cities, the South Moravian countryside is more open to domestic tourists. This fact, previously perceived as a disadvantage, was of unexpected significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Czech Tourism Agency, the number of overnights stays in hotels by domestic tourists increased by 20% in the first half of 2020, whereas the total number of overnight stays fell by 37% due to the fall of foreign tourist. Besides, cultural tourism is the only one that can apply online—although in this case, the contribution to rural development would be small, rather consisting in the promotion of the area. Similarly, Gössling, Scott, and Hall [49] speak about the role of domestic tourism in the recovery after the pandemic and about the long-term transition to the more resilient destinations. The South Moravian countryside seems to fulfil this condition.
The presuppositions for the development of cultural tourism in the South Moravian rural landscape are as follows:
  • The South Moravian countryside is attractive from the viewpoint of cultural tourism.
  • The maintenance and state of some immovable monuments do not respond to their importance.
  • The human factor, including cooperation from stakeholders, is the key factor for cultural tourism development.
  • However, debates about substituting lost agricultural jobs with tourism jobs make little sense because decisive jobs are in different branches.
  • The benefit of cultural tourism could be seen in both economic and non-economic contributions.
An important aspect of the impact of cultural tourism on rural development is the concept of rural development. Assuming that it should be a qualitative development, an important issue is the impact of cultural tourism on improving the quality of life of local people [50]. Improving the quality of life of the local population means improving the material intangible conditions of life while minimizing negative externalities. This condition could theoretically meet this condition perhaps more than other types of tourism, among other things because it presupposes an increase in the culture of the environment and visitors. Cultural tourism can become a suitable tool for converting productive countryside, focused on intensive agricultural production, into the post-productive countryside, focused on sustainable area consumption. According to MacDonald and Jolliffe [51], the community-based partnership should develop based on cultural rural tourism. Kneafsey [52] adds that the rural is commodified not only as a physical place, but as a place with a special spirit. In many cases, the countryside is portrayed as a container of traditional cultures, national identities, and authentic lifestyles.
Consequently, it is possible to state that cultural tourism can hardly be an important driver of rural development in the study region because the economic structure of the area is based on different labour branches. However, cultural tourism, developed within Integrated Rural Tourism [53], could be an important complementary industry (a value-added activity, according to Tulla [54] with economic and especially non-economic importance within the cultural sphere. This cultural benefit could support the economic life of the region, secondarily.
Future research should consider the development of tourist preferences and the ability of providers to react to these demands, among others.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.Š., A.V.; methodology, M.Š., A.V.; software, J.B.; validation, M.Š.; formal analysis, K.T., J.Z., J.B.; investigation, A.V. and M.Š.; resources, M.Š.; data curation, A.V., M.Š., J.B., K.T., J.Z. and V.S.; writing–original draft, A.V. and M.Š.; writing—review and editing, M.Š.; visualization, J.B.; supervision, M.Š.; project administration, M.Š.; funding acquisition, M.Š. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This paper comprises the results of the HORIZON 2020 Project Social and Innovative Platform on Cultural Tourism and its potential towards deepening Europeanisation ( ID 870644, funding scheme Research and Innovation action, call H2020-SC6-TRANSFORMATIONS-2019.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. The region under study. Source: Drawn by J. Brychta.
Figure 1. The region under study. Source: Drawn by J. Brychta.
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Figure 2. Vranov Chateau.The chateau dominates the Dyje valley. Source: V. Hubačíková.
Figure 2. Vranov Chateau.The chateau dominates the Dyje valley. Source: V. Hubačíková.
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Figure 3. Moravský Krumlov Chateau. The Slav Epic has been exhibited in the Moravský Krumlov Chateau. However, the contemporary state of the building does not match the importance of Mucha´s work. Source: A. Vaishar.
Figure 3. Moravský Krumlov Chateau. The Slav Epic has been exhibited in the Moravský Krumlov Chateau. However, the contemporary state of the building does not match the importance of Mucha´s work. Source: A. Vaishar.
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Figure 4. Wine cellars in Bořetice. The cellars manifest a part of the Free Federal Republic of Cow Hill. Source: V. Hubačíková.
Figure 4. Wine cellars in Bořetice. The cellars manifest a part of the Free Federal Republic of Cow Hill. Source: V. Hubačíková.
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Figure 5. Living folklore. The band Šardičanka in Pavlov village. In this case, it is an attempt to export folklore from traditional Moravian Slovakia to villages settled by German populations before WWII. Source: A. Vaishar.
Figure 5. Living folklore. The band Šardičanka in Pavlov village. In this case, it is an attempt to export folklore from traditional Moravian Slovakia to villages settled by German populations before WWII. Source: A. Vaishar.
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Figure 6. Baťa channel. The Baťa channel, originally built in the 1930s for the transport of coal from the Hodonín Basin to Baťa´s factories in Otrokovice and Zlín, manifests a complementary attraction to cultural tourism in the Moravian South. Source: V. Hubačíková.
Figure 6. Baťa channel. The Baťa channel, originally built in the 1930s for the transport of coal from the Hodonín Basin to Baťa´s factories in Otrokovice and Zlín, manifests a complementary attraction to cultural tourism in the Moravian South. Source: V. Hubačíková.
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Šťastná, M.; Vaishar, A.; Brychta, J.; Tuzová, K.; Zloch, J.; Stodolová, V. Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Development. Case Study: Southern Moravia. Sustainability 2020, 12, 9064.

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Šťastná M, Vaishar A, Brychta J, Tuzová K, Zloch J, Stodolová V. Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Development. Case Study: Southern Moravia. Sustainability. 2020; 12(21):9064.

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Šťastná, Milada, Antonín Vaishar, Jiří Brychta, Kristýna Tuzová, Jan Zloch, and Veronika Stodolová. 2020. "Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Development. Case Study: Southern Moravia" Sustainability 12, no. 21: 9064.

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