Sea Tourism Heritage in Portuguese Coastal Territory

Sea Tourism Heritage in Portuguese Coastal Territory

Norberto Santos, Claudete Oliveira Moreira, Rui Ferreira, Luís Silveira
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1522-8.ch004
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Portugal has 1,860 km of coastline and therefore has always had a strong element of value and cultural expression in the sea. This chapter presents a study that gives meaning to key cultural elements in Portuguese sun-and-sea destinations, integrating their heritage value and intangible cultural significance. Authors show how two large groups of heritage elements associated with the sea can be integrated into forms of visitation and leisure (lighthouses, forts and coastal garrisons). These heritage elements increasingly integrate tourism, diversifying and valuing it. Adding to these elements of material heritage, it is also important to refer to elements of intangible expression that are a reference for the life of the populations connected to the sea. Particular attention will be paid to the Xávega Art, and to the Rendas de Bilros handicraft, considering their inventory and safeguard.
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The increasing appreciation of cultural elements and the generally attached importance to heritage assets has not been matched with the same level of interest in the case of coastal areas, both related to their material and immaterial characteristics. In these regions, the traditional attractiveness mostly depends on beach tourism and other activities directly related to sea so, normally minor attention is given to the preservation and rehabilitation of the legacies resulting from the human presence on the sea fronts.

In more recent times, however, there have been some initiatives to counteract this trend. In the European context, an important milestone in these initiatives was the creation of the European Maritime Heritage (EMH) and its integration into the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 (set up in 2011), a platform composed of more than 30 European and international networks and organisations linked to the cultural heritage. Another important initiative in this regard is the European Maritime Day, set out in a joint decision of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, which is celebrated on May 20th. With the aim of highlighting the crucial role of the seas and their coastal regions, the activities inserted in this day seek to revere the ancestral maritime tradition of Europe.

In Portugal, the people’s connection to the sea is probably as deep as the nationality itself, and its historical roots go much deeper. The recognition of this link is widespread, and its importance is reflected in the various social, economic, cultural and scientific fields. The sea was the vehicle through which the Portuguese asserted themselves in the world, leading an important era of globalization in the renaissance. Nowadays, it is at sea and in the expectation of exploring its valuable natural resources that the country sees one of the strategic pillars of its future development in the medium and long term.

The National Strategy for the Sea (2006-2013), conceived at the beginning of this third millennium following a series of initiatives related to the preparation and success of Expo'98, under the theme “Oceans: a heritage for the future”, draws up a diagnosis and a set of guidelines for

turning the sea into a national project, focusing on an integrated approach to the governance of maritime affairs, which for the first time brings together the efforts of the different authorities, economic agents, the scientific community, non-governmental organizations and civil society, co-committing all actors to the use of the sea as a differentiating factor of economic and social development, valuing and preserving this heritage (EMAM, 2007, p. 7).

Despite the importance of this document and subsequent work (ENM 2013-2020), the whole focus of the analysis is centered on the so-called “economy of the sea”, resulting in an economic and econometric view of the sea as a heritage / resource, as is evident in this small extract:

The economy of the sea increased its ratio to the national economy by about 10% over a period of two years. In 2010, the economy of the sea, only in terms of direct effects, represented about 2.5% of the national GDP and is expected to have increased to 2.7% in 2012, putting the country on the path of the 3% contribution of the sea for the national economy” (DGPM, 2013, p. A4).

In addition to references to “maritime cultural heritage and, in particular, underwater heritage” (ES1 – Governação Cultura e Comunicação / Património / Cultural) (DGPM, 2013); and “recognition of the national and regional interest of traditional boats as a testimony to the experiences of coastal communities and part of the maritime national identity” (DED2 - Infraestruturas, Usos e Atividades Recreio, Desporto e Turismo - Portugal Náutico Embarcações Tradicionais) (DGPM, 2013) no measures are included that cover other patrimonial elements associated to the sea but not framed by this economistic view.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Heritage: Goods, services, practices or territories with significance for cultural tourism. Tangible heritage: mobile (paintings, sculptures), immovable (monuments, archaeological sites) and underwater; intangible heritage (oral traditions, arts, rituals); natural heritage (cultural landscapes), closely linked to a community that (re)creates and transmits it.

Authenticity: Of places, objects, attractions, tourist products and experiences; what is genuine, original, authentic, approved, certified; dimension to qualify tourism supply and experience; the opposite of inauthenticity, simulacrum.

Sea Heritage: Existing patrimony in aquatic, underwater and coastal environment; monuments, sites linked to the sea; architectural heritage, built and landscaped, constructions with historical value, coastal landscapes with heritage, cultural, arts, crafts, traditions, festivities, gastronomy, closely linked to the sea and fishing communities, that is, to a particular socio-economic context that originated it, must be inventoried, protected and valued.

Tourist Attraction: Essential component of the tourism system, created by the it, which, due to its authenticity, uniqueness and notoriety, motivates the movement of tourists. They are points (a lighthouse, a museum), lines (coastline) or areas (a fort, a beach); natural, cultural, historical, artificial, material and immaterial; are isolated, dispersed or forming clusters; presuppose a management.

Tourism Experience: All the activity of participation and sharing made by the visitors in their tourism trips, whose value, meaning and qualification depends on the profile and expectations of the tourist and the demand for satisfaction, the result of a process of free will mediated by the characteristics of the offer.

Sustainable Tourism: Multidimensional reality (economic, social, environmental, political), systemic, presupposes rational management of territorial resources, the ultimate goal being human well-being and ecosystem equilibrium. Reference of the local action. Basilar principle in the management of tourist destinations.

Cultural Tourism: Tourism that values ??tangible and intangible aspects of the culture of a certain tourist destination, closely linked to the local community, heritage, history, architecture, traditions, arts and crafts, gastronomy, painting, dance, music, social practices, rituals, festive events, which are factors of identity and preserve authenticity.

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