May 2011
Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference on Practi;May2011, p14
Conference Proceeding
The article aims to analyse and assess the financial support for Lithuanian rural tourism businesses through three European Union (EU) financial instruments: SAPARD programme and European Union Structural Funds under the provisions of the Single Programming Document for 2004-2006 as well as the Rural Development Programme for Lithuania 2007-2013; the major obstacles to the more effective use of EU support for rural tourism are revealed; measures taken by Lithuanian Government to simplify and facilitate the procedure for allocation and administration of support under the Rural Development Programme for Lithuania 2007-2013 are specified; issues to be solved in the shortterm future are identified. EU support through SAPARD programme and Structural Funds used to be and still is an important instrument for securing vitality and competitiveness of Lithuanian rural areas. Enhancing the profitability of Lithuanian rural regions by means of creating jobs in competitive agricultural and rural economic activities as one of the most important aims of EU support has been achieved only partially. Imperfect laws and secondary legislation, a complicated application procedure for support and excessively high selection criteria for activities which have not yet been started or have just started, lack of initial financial resources, a complex lending system for rural businesses, excessively complicated check system for investment expediency and delayed payments have substantially complicated access to financial support under the SAPARD program and have obstructed the development of tourism business. Project selection criteria blocked young, early-stage and lacking their own funds rural businessmen from taking part in this programme. Support administration procedure was improved to ensure successful use of support throughout the implementation of the Rural Development Programme and the experience gained allowed for the far more developed programme of 2007-2013 and more effective support administration mechanisms. Lithuanian rural tourism is likely to be given more attention in the new financial perspective of EU support for 2007-2013 and hopefully this activity will receive greater support than under the previous programmes. Intensively growing demand for rural tourism services shows that investments in this type of business in our country, as well as in other European states, are expedient.


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