Rural Tourism in a Metropolitan Hinterland: Co-evolving Towards a Resilient Rural Fringe

  • Christopher FullertonEmail author
  • Patrick Brouder
Part of the Geographies of Tourism and Global Change book series (GTGC)


This chapter explores the tourism development process in the rural fringe of Canada’s Niagara Region through an evolutionary economic geography (EEG) lens, which focuses on how past conditions both constrain and enable future courses of regional development. Through our research we have found that, despite the Niagara Region’s close proximity to millions of urban and suburban dwellers, the growth of its rural tourism economy has been stunted by several geographical and institutional challenges. The most notable of these is the highly dominant presence of Niagara Falls, a globally iconic landmark whose role as a mass tourism destination has led to many tourists thinking that Niagara Falls “is Niagara”, despite the region having twelve different municipalities that have a great deal to offer to prospective visitors. Furthermore, it was widely believed among those we interviewed that Niagara’s regional tourism organization (RTO) was also biased in favour of Niagara Falls, along with the highly-popular Niagara-on-the-Lake, and that other municipalities were largely left out of the RTO’s marketing and promotional efforts. Finally, the lack of any true leadership in regional tourism planning—to deal with issues such as product development and the provision of wayfinding infrastructure—in Niagara was also seen as detrimental to the growth of tourism in Niagara’s rural fringe. Our chapter concludes with a number of recommendations to move Niagara’s rural tourism economy forward in light of these challenges.



Christopher and Patrick gratefully acknowledge the support of the Niagara Tourism Network and Brock University’s Council for Research in the Social Sciences in completing the research included in this chapter.


  1. Beech, M. (2008, July 8). Tourism season highly erratic. St. Catharines Standard, A1.Google Scholar
  2. Blizzard, C. (2008, May 3). Bitter harvest for Niagara’s fruit farms: Closure of CanGro is a sad end to what was once a mighty industry. St. Catharines Standard, A14.Google Scholar
  3. Boggs, J., & Fullerton, C. (2017). Niagara Falls. In L. Lowry (Ed.), The SAGE international encyclopedia of travel and tourism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Boschma, R., & Martin, R. (Eds.). (2010). The handbook of evolutionary economic geography. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  5. Bramwell, B., & Meyer, D. (2007). Power and tourism policy relations in transition. Annals of Tourism Research, 34(3), 766–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brouder, P. (2013). Tourism development in peripheral areas: Processes of local innovation and change in northern Sweden. (Doctoral dissertation, Mid Sweden University).Google Scholar
  7. Brouder, P. (2017). Evolutionary economic geography: Reflections from a sustainable tourism perspective. Tourism Geographies, 19(3), 438–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brouder, P. (2018). The end of tourism? A Gibson-Graham inspired reflection on the tourism economy. Tourism Geographies, 20 (in press).Google Scholar
  9. Brouder, P., & Eriksson, R. H. (2013). Staying power: What influences micro-firm survival in tourism? Tourism Geographies, 15(1), 124–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brouder, P., & Fullerton, C. (2017). Co-evolution and sustainable tourism development: From old institutional inertia to new institutional imperatives in Niagara. In P. Brouder, S. Anton Clavé, A. Gill, & D. Ioannides (Eds.) Tourism destination evolution (pp. 149–164). Oxon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Canadian Auto Workers Local 199. (2007, May 7). Manufacturing matters. Presentation to St. Catharines City Council.Google Scholar
  12. Dredge, D. (2006). Networks, conflict and collaborative communities. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 14(6), 562–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dubinsky, K. (1999). The second greatest disappointment: Honeymooning and tourism at Niagara Falls. Toronto: Between the Lines.Google Scholar
  14. Fraser, D. (2004, April 26). Thirsting for a rebound: Tourism sector confident 2004 will see start of recovery. St. Catharines Standard, A6.Google Scholar
  15. Fullerton, C. (2013). The growing place of wine in the economic development of the Niagara region. In M. Ripmeester, P. G. Mackintosh, & C. Fullerton (Eds.), The world of Niagara wine (pp. 47–63). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Gayler, H. (2004). The Niagara Fruit Belt: Planning conflicts in the preservation of a national resource. In M. B. Lapping & O. J. Furuseth (Eds.), Big places, big plans (pp. 55–82). Hampshire, UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  17. Gayler, H. (2010). Niagara’s emerging wine culture: From a countryside of production to consumption. In Joan Nicks & Nick Baxter-Moore (Eds.), Covering Niagara: Studies in local popular culture (pp. 195–212). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hickey, R. (2008). Challenges and opportunities for improving employment conditions in Niagara’s hotel sector. Report prepared for UNITE HERE Canada.Google Scholar
  19. Hill, A. S. (2002). A serpent in the garden: Implications of highway development in Canada’s Niagara Fruit Belt. Journal of Historical Sociology, 15(4), 495–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kauppila, P., Saarinen, J., & Leinonen, R. (2009). Sustainable tourism planning and regional development in peripheries: A Nordic view. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 9(4), 424–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mayer, T. (2008, November 22). Niagara farmers taking federal pullout cash. St. Catharines Standard, A7.Google Scholar
  22. Mitchell, C., Atkinson, G., & Clark, A. (2001). The creative destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Canadian Geographer, 45(2), 285–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Müller, D. K., & Brouder, P. (2014). Dynamic development or destined to decline? The case of Arctic tourism businesses and local labour markets in Jokkmokk, Sweden. In A. Viken & B. Granås (Eds.), Tourism destination development: Turns and tactics (pp. 227–244). Farnham, UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  24. Niagara Region. (2017). Economic development. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from
  25. PKF Consulting. (2015). Tourism industry analysis and options study: Final report. Report prepared for the Regional Municipality of Niagara.Google Scholar
  26. Reed, M. (1997). Power relations and community-based tourism planning. Annals of Tourism Research, 24(3), 566–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ruhanen, L. (2013). Local government: Facilitator or inhibitor of sustainable tourism development? Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 21(1), 80–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Saarinen, J. (2004). Destinations in change: The transformation process of tourist destinations. Tourist Studies, 4(2), 161–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Scott, A. (2004, March 4). Plenty of jobs…but no employees. Welland Tribune, A7.Google Scholar
  30. Stewart, J., Bramble, L., & Ziraldo, D. (2008). Key challenges in wine and culinary tourism with practical recommendations. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 20(3), 302–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Viken, A., & Aarsaether, N. (2013). Transforming an iconic attraction into a diversified destination: The case of North Cape tourism. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 13(1), 38–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weidenfeld, A., Williams, A. M., & Butler, R. W. (2010). Knowledge transfer and innovation among attractions. Annals of Tourism Research, 37(3), 604–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography & Tourism StudiesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  2. 2.School of Tourism & HospitalityUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Recreation and Tourism ManagementVancouver Island UniversityNanaimoCanada

Personalised recommendations