The Planning of Tourism on Rural Areas: The Stakeholders' Perceptions of the Boticas Municipality (Northeastern Portugal)

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Abstract

Most of the strategies developed to “save” rural territories in Europe have not been successful. One of their main problems has been the adoption of the top-down paradigm when approaching the development of those territories. Portugal is a good example of the difficulty in adopting a bottom-up paradigm. The main objective of this paper is to present the perceptions of the local (including the residents) and regional stakeholders acting at Boticas, regarding the set of resources available and the development of the tourism industry. Boticas is a northern Portuguese, rural low-density municipality. In capturing those perceptions, the research contributes to the establishment of a more integrated and innovative development strategy and thus, a more capable strategy for profiting from the potential associated with the growth of the tourism industry that has been experienced recently in Portugal. The adoption of a mixed-method was suggested for evaluating these resources and capturing the perceptions of the tourist potential by different stakeholders. Empirical data was collected through a survey of 373 of its residents and 25 interviews conducted with local and regional actors, further supported by an inventory of the cultural resources and their capacity for visits. We conclude here that, residents tend to have a very positive perception of tourism development, and indeed, their perceptions largely met those of other stakeholders.

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