The invention of Pays Cathare: Origins in the assertion of a tourist territorial politics

Abstract : After more than 45 years of development of the Languedoc Coast, pointed out more particularly with the Mission Racine (1963-1983) having the double purpose to diversify the regional economy with the tourism and to get the Money from the Northern European tourists, the weight of the coast from the Languedoc remains dominating in the regional touristic economy. On the five departments which this region counts, four of them have a maritime front on the Golf du Lion and are confronted with the preservation of the attractiveness of the sea resorts, with the problems linked with the rehabilitation of the tourist buildings and with the future of these littoral areas today which welcome about 10 million tourists a year. Among the public initiatives carried out by the communities of this region, a departmental device marked the history of the local development in the southwest of France. From a work of thesis, this communication will show how touristic activities were thought and organized from a rural zone in process of desertion, and how these activities were the ferments of a touristic territorial politics on the scale of a department possessing a maritime front. The invention of the Pays Cathare, is above all the emergence of an innovatiing development project while leaning on the historical and architectural heritage (cofinanced by the Leader programs I and II, 1992, 1999) which had for objective to revitalize a rural economy in trouble. From the end of 1980s, the Department of the Aude wished to set up a politicy of communication, arrangement and touristic development which formed itself around a federative subject: the cathar fact. Symbol of the occitan autonomy, finding an echo in the local imagination, The Image of “ Pays Cathare ” led to a politicy of cultural activities on this whole department and allowed to set this touristic destination on the scale of the European southwest. Highlighting a diachronic view, about this example of the Department of Aude, the capacity of mobilization of the local actors around the touristic project, the forms and the specific actions which structure it as well as the networks which are at the root of them, by revealing the connection of this activity with the other local resources, the various constituents of the local touristic offer (in particular the coast), we finally suggest elements of interpretation of the durability of the touristic project which finds not only its appropriate specificity but also its real anchoring within the social, political and economic structures which work in the heart of the territorial development.
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Sébastien Rayssac. The invention of Pays Cathare: Origins in the assertion of a tourist territorial politics. International Conference « Researching Coastal and Resort Destination Management: Cultures and Histories of Tourism », Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change; European Union of Tourist Officers; Universitat de Girona, Oct 2009, Girona, France. ⟨hal-01278970⟩



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