Background: The tourism cluster-approach is considered to be an appropriate strategy in emerging economies and less developed areas. Due to scarce resources and a great number of structural problems of rural areas in Montenegro, uniting all stakeholders and attractions into a competitive tourism cluster would ensure that the area could operate and become an effective and efficient rural tourism destination. Objectives: The objective of this paper is to highlight the key challenges of rural tourism clustering and provide new data and a wider understanding of the tourism-cluster approach in Montenegrin rural areas. Methods: Using the extensive literature, available secondary data from government bodies, NGOs, foreign development agencies, relevant international organisations and primary data collected from rural tourism operators in Montenegro, the paper investigates key challenges and factors associated with (in)efficiency of Montenegrin theme trails. Results: Several management and marketing issues are identified regarding the cluster approach implementation. Special importance and significance of information technologies and intelligent systems have been recognized in sense of cost-effective marketing implementation. Most Montenegrin trails are still in the first phase of cluster development, whereas just two of them have experienced a significant improvement in cooperative behaviour. Conclusions: Key benefits of the cluster approach are noted and clearly defined, but in the case of the Montenegrin rural tourism sector, these potentials are still, to a large extent, underused.
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