The economic and financial crisis has hit European countries
and regions asymmetrically. Some countries have suffered more than
others; moreover, within countries, some regions have suffered more
This can be explained by the socio-economic disadvantages
of certain regions, such as rurality, crisis or lack of traditional
industries, low population density or negative population growth,
unemployment and underground employment, lack of a sufficient workforce
to sustain social welfare systems, low levels of education, lack
of public and private research and development and innovation capacity,
or difficult access to essential services.
The report advocates endogenous development, based on locally
available resources such as land, water, vegetation, knowledge,
skills and competences, culture, etc., as a means of dealing with
regional economic difficulties. Tradition and cultural and natural
diversity, as well as spirituality, may become the starting points for
possible innovations leading to economic growth.
In this context, thematic tourism and senior citizen tourism
are activities that have the potential to contribute to the endogenous
economic development of disadvantaged European regions. It can be
connected with the cultural and historical heritage of a specific
region, with ethnography, gastronomy, traditional music and handicrafts
or with religion.