The aim of the paper is to analyse the role of rural credit unions (CRs) in the local financial system and their position as potential primary stakeholders in communitytype destinations. These destinations could be considered as networks characterised by relationships to be understood through the network approach and stakeholder theory. In community-type destinations the level of integration of the tourist offer depends on the intensity and structure of relationships, that is, on the coordination among enterprises, public bodies, local communities and destination management organisations, that manage only a part of the resources and participate with distinct roles, capabilities and power. In these destinations the local credit system has a fundamental role, since it funds enterprises and takes part in local development projects. The CRs are cooperative banks that - by statute - foster economic and social development of the territory. The field research conducted in a typical community-type destination in Italy investigated if there exists a link between the role of the CRs and the development of the tourist offer, to test if they are also primary stakeholders for the tourist development of the territory. The research highlights that CRs are primary stakeholders for the development of traditional economic activities and that they have mainly a financing role for the development of the tourist offer. Signals of change in role are perceivable within the network: from financier to partner in the planning of initiatives and support activities of the tourist development. The results suggest a possible re-positioning of local banks in the network for tourist development projects.
Keywords: Network, primary stakeholder, local banks, community-type destinations, local development