Marko Jurakić: The development of rural tourism should become the goal of all stakeholders in tourism, and beyond

The RRT conference connected experts and employers with high school students and students, and their common goal is to connect tourism and rural development into one whole.


21. December 2022.

The third scientific-professional conference for the development of rural tourism is being talked about in a positive context, and how could it not be. The conference successfully connected experts and employers with high school students and students from all over Croatia, as well as from abroad. All of them have tourism and rural development in common, and the goal is to combine them into a single whole.

But before the third edition of the international conference for the development of rural tourism RRT 2022, more than 60 students and 15 professors from the fields of tourism, marketing and rural development from eight higher education institutions from Croatia and Slovenia participated in conducting field classes through a guided tour and presentation of four locations in the area of ​​Međimurje County.

The goal was to get to know the tourist offer and to recognize the potential for further development of rural tourism, and the work tasks included the preparation of student works through group work, exchange of experiences and creative involvement in existing processes.

Conference rrt medimurje 2022 field teaching photo vimal academy

"The four locations in this area were not chosen by chance. The first location was a local unit, the tourism-conscious municipality of Sveti Juraj na Breg, followed by a visit to the successful Wine Camp Hažić and the Terme Sveti Martin hotel. The last, fourth location of the field teaching was Čakovec, the seat and the largest city of Međimurje County. All the mentioned locations were visited by the participants on the first day of classes, and on the second day, two faculties each worked on one of the destinations. It was interesting to see how these destinations were seen by domestic students, and how foreign students who came from Portugal, Spain , Brazil, Slovenia...", explained Assoc. Ph.D. Marko Jurakić, head of the development and higher education sector of the Vimal Academy, which is also the organizer of the scientific-professional conference for the development of rural tourism.

Vimal - Academy for Human Resources Development started the conference two years ago, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first edition was held online at Libertas International University in Zagreb. 25 panelists from five countries participated in the conference, and the co-organizer was LAG Moslavina. The second edition of the conference was held in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Namely, one year after the earthquake, the desire was to provide support and attract media attention to the area, and the partner in the organization was the Tourist Board of Sisak-Moslavina County.

"After the severely affected county, this year we decided on one of the richest counties, Međimurje, and we received excellent support from the Tourist Board of Međimurje County, which greatly helped us in organizing both the field lessons and the holding of the Conference." Jurakic points out.

In the first part of the international scientific and professional conference for the development of rural tourism, which was held this year under the name "Education as a key factor in the sustainable and responsible development of rural areas", student presentations were held. Namely, students of economic faculties and faculties of tourism and management from several countries presented their experiences and proposals for the development of rural tourism, which were based on fieldwork.

rrt, development of rural tourism

Conference rrt medimurje 2022 photo vimal academy 2

On the same day, a meeting was held in the development and education center of the Metal core Čakovec "Higher Education Open Day" where participants from higher education institutions, partners of the Conference, presented their teaching programs and enrollment opportunities to students in the final grades of secondary schools from the immediate environment. In addition to them, five interested employers in tourism presented their employment opportunities and educational programs to high school students and students. The first day of the Conference was concluded with the signing of an international agreement between the Tourist Board of Međimurje County and the Montenegrin Tourist Board of Herceg Novi.

The second day of the Conference was held in Terme Sveti Martin, and it was celebrated panel discussions and expert presentations businessmen, tourism workers and direct holders of development activities from several countries, and the presentation of scientific and professional works. Representatives of the county, cities, municipalities, universities and high schools took part in the panel discussions, who emphasized responsible and sustainable development in the rural area and education as a key factor on this path.

"We receive a large number of praises for the third edition of RRT, and this is supported by the fact that at this Conference we have already agreed not only on the next, but on the next three hosts of the Conference. This is an indicator of how the Conference is recognized by the scientific public, but also by state institutions, because the Ministry of Tourism and Sports gave us strong support this year as well. We will continue to work on the development of the conference and we will try to bring a larger number of employers who will talk to students in tourism and management next year.", announced Jurakić.

Conference rrt medimurje 2022 photo vimal academy 6

The dean of the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, associate professor Ph.D. Sanja Sever Mališ, who emphasized the great value of the conference because it draws attention to rural areas and the development of tourism in those areas.

"The development of tourism in these areas is the key to reducing the seasonality of Croatian tourism, as well as the potential for increasing the standard and quality of life of the local population, who can find an additional or established source of income in tourism. In this entire process, education plays an extremely important role because employees are the key to service in tourism, the quality of the provided service depends on their excellence", emphasized Mališ and added that today's trend where tourists are constantly looking for more and more quality services is impossible to follow without high-quality and highly educated experts in tourism who are currently being educated at the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Economics.

The importance of tourism for the Faculty of Economics of the University of Zagreb is also shown by the fact that EFZG has an almost 60-year tradition of education and research in the field of tourism, and with the Department of Tourism in 2001, among the first educational institutions in the world, received the prestigious UNWTO certificate and (TedQual) for education and research in the field of tourism.

In that network there are only 60 institutions from around the world whose task is to create new knowledge for the needs of the entire tourism system. Also, in the last few years, the Department of Tourism is responsible for the fact that, at the level of the University of Zagreb, EFZG was included in an extremely high position on the Shanghai list of the academic ranking of universities in the world in the field of management in tourism and hospitality, as the only institution from Croatia.

/// RRT2022: Awarded the best student works from the held field classes in rural tourism

"At EFZG, students can acquire education in the field of tourism at the Integrated Undergraduate and Graduate University Study Business Economics, majoring in Tourism, and at the Undergraduate Professional Study Tourism Business. The Faculty, together with the Department of Tourism, is focused on the constant pursuit of excellence, and this is reflected in our students who, after completing our study programs, are employed in the most prestigious tourism companies in Croatia and beyond."

The Faculty of Economics of the University of Zagreb is the organizer and co-organizer of a large number of events in the field of Economics and Business Economics, so it wholeheartedly accepted the organization of the RRT conference scheduled for next year, in which it sees the potential to attract a large number of stakeholders from the field of tourism, such as large hoteliers and other providers services in tourism, county and local tourist boards, local population involved in tourism, and of course our students.

Conference rrt medimurje 2022 photo vimal academy 7

"Strengthening relations with various stakeholders contributes to our excellence and better recognition as a valuable partner both in projects and in the general public. The Department of Tourism will be the bearer of activities related to the organization of the conference itself, led by its excellent teachers and scientists, which we expect to overflow and on the popularization of Tourism among our students. What makes this conference stand out from the rest is the Student Conference preceded by field teaching, and this is an added value and one of the main reasons for taking over the hosting of the conference.", explains dean Mališ.

Finally, let's say that after the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, one year later the host of the scientific-professional conference for the development of rural tourism will be the Faculty of Management in Tourism and Hospitality in Opatija, and in 2025 the Conference will be held outside Croatia for the first time, or rather the host will be the University of Maribor.

Photo source: Vimal Academy


21. December 2022.