Seminar “Tourism: a barometer of sustainability in rural territories”

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Rota Vicentina Association is organising the Seminar "Tourism: a barometer of sustainability in rural territories", which will take place on March 31st in Vila Nova de Milfontes, in the 3rd edition of Semana ID.

Seminário “Turismo: um barómetro de sustentabilidade em territórios rurais” - Semana ID Rota Vicentina

This is a session with invited entities and specialists who have an active role in monitoring the impacts of tourism, with particular focus on rural areas. Rota Vicentina intends to stimulate a working session, reflection and debate of possible solutions for a joint orientation on the need to evolve the current study models of this subject.

More specifically, the relationship of tourism with the (integrated) occupation of the territory, the landscape, the agricultural and forestry mosaic, the ecosystem services, the local and circular economy, among other aspects, will be discussed.

How can this reality be brought into the statistics? Is it relevant? Are there case studies? How can we take the first steps? What would we gain, as a country?

Tourism has been treated as a sector that encompasses accommodation, transport, tourist entertainment, tourist operations and catering. But in the real world, much of what tourism really is goes beyond these businesses. In rural areas in particular, tourism lives from the landscape, which is meant to be beautiful but with content: from access to an endogenous and innovative local economy, a conscious and collaborative community of residents and visitors.

In practice, the well-being and activity of resident populations is the raw material of future tourism and when this raw material is degraded or exhausted, action must be taken: halting “production”, reinvesting in the regeneration of raw materials and managing its use in favour of the tourist product and visitors. Tourism should act as a lever for the sustainable development of the territory and its people, effectively managing its pressure and impacts on the territory.

Rural territories have been undergoing socio-economic and biogeophysical transformations as a result of new activities and occupations on the land, which generate transversal impacts, including for tourism. The growing occupation by intensive monocultures, which generate profits for the forestry and agricultural production sector, also implies costs for the territory, namely in terms of loss of biodiversity, landscape degradation, increased erosion, depopulation, extreme pressure on housing or socio-cultural uprooting.

A commitment to maintaining and enhancing the indigenous forest or multifunctional agricultural mosaic has the potential to generate added value and business opportunities that feed the entire value chain of a territory, creating synergies between companies and local communities, particularly with regard to tourism. What potential for mutual appreciation do we find between the various sectors and tourism, and which, in practice, is diluted between resident and visiting populations?

At a time when there is an ambition for a growing and balanced exodus to rural areas by young families and communities, which fosters that quality of life that is as inherent to the management of rural land as it is to tourism, how is the policy being monitored to manage the territory?

Tourism can be a pillar for the sustainability of a region, depending on its capacity to manage supply and demand, but also the impacts, both positive and negative, of its integration in the territory, whether from an environmental, social and economic point of view. In terms of statistics and impact monitoring studies, are we doing these accounts? How can we bring this reality into the statistics? Is it pertinent? Are there case studies? How can we take the first steps? What would we gain, as a region and as a country?

This debate has been taking place in diverse situations, and the invitation is to concentrate experiences, knowledge and ideas. This is the moment: inside the Seminar and outside it, you are all very welcome to follow this reflection with us!
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Marta Cabral

Nasceu em Lisboa no ano de 1975. Na Associação Rota Vicentina assume o papel de Presidente da Direcção. Nos tempos livres, gosta de caminhar, andar de bicicleta, ler, yoga, silêncio e festas!

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