Maria Del Pilar Leal Londono* - University of Barcelona
Rural development programs and policies frequently include among their actions the promotion of typical or traditional products, usually referred to as "local or regional products" (Ilbery & Kneafsey, 1998; Caldentey, 2001; Tregear et al., 2007). The promotion of such products clearly serves as part of a wider program for spurring regional development (Tregear et al., 2007).
The existence of a growing market sector that demands products of these characteristics (Bessiere, 1998, Holloway & Kneafsey, 2000) makes the promotion of local products, as part of gastronomic tourism, particularly interesting. Gastronomic tourism is ultimately a means to achieving local development and serves as a basic tool for the promotion and distribution of local agro food products (Hjalaguer & Richards, 2002). The purpose of this paper is to analyze the potential offered by the marketing of mountain products via programs of gastronomic tourism in Catalonia (Spain) and its relationship with the local development of areas suffering depopulation and the abandonment of their productive agricultural activity.
To achieve the objective, this study draws on data obtained from surveys conducted with 32 producers of typical products, 21 retailers and 22 restaurants and hotels. All respondents are located in the comarcas (counties) of the Pyrenees and all form part of a public governmental strategy known as "Gastroteca". The surveys were supplemented with information obtained in semi-structured interviews. The analysis seeks to contribute to the discussion of this form of tourism as a mechanism for local development in geographically marginalized territories.