Tourists’ perception of landscape attributes in rural tourism
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Purpose - Aim of this paper is to identify the perception of tourists towards positive and negative landscape features. Its objective is to classify rural tourists into homogenous groups according to their sensitivity towards specific landscape characteristics. Design/Methodology/Approach - The work is based on a quantitative data collection among tourists spending a vacation at agritourism farms. Altogether 378 valid questionnaires were collected. A K-mean cluster analysis is conducted to group respondents into homogenous groups. Findings - This research work has revealed that tourists find particularly pleasant the presence of a landscape, which is the result of human actions such as orchards, flowery/grassy meadows and vineyards. On the contrary, particularly unpleasant is the presence of a landscape that reflects a neglected environment, view on factories, and congested roads. This work has also identified the presence of three different clusters with distinct sensitivity towards landscape attributes: there are tourists who are highly sensitive to both positive and negative attributes, tourists who are highly sensitive to the positive attributes, but less sensitive to the negative attributes, tourists who are less sensitive to both the positive and the negative attributes. Originality/Value - When discussing issues related to the landscape, the question arises on how and who should preserve and enhance the landscape for tourism reasons. The results of this research work demonstrate that the need for preserving and caring for the environment is imperative for the success of rural tourism. Concluding remarks and future research prospects are included.