From enthusiasm to scepticism: tourism cluster initiatives and rural development in Slovakia
Rural regeneration is usually accompanied by diversification of the economy and creation of new employment opportunities. The cluster concept, introduced by Michael Porter at the beginning of the 1990s, and cluster initiatives are generally and uncritically offered as an adequate tool for the fulfilment of these objectives. This study describes the functioning of four tourism cluster initiatives from rural areas of Slovakia using the experience and knowledge from field work (supported by content analysis of newspapers and the Internet) and their (in)direct impact on selected regional indicators (net migration of population, number of tourists, overnight stays and unemployed persons). The data indicate the efforts of the tourism cluster founders in the initial years of activity are not automatically associated with broadly interpreted local and regional success. This result shows that cluster initiatives in tourism are not appropriate for all rural areas, economies and/or communities.