Tourists' Awareness of World Heritage: The Case of Tourists Visiting the Algarve (Portugal)

Tourists' Awareness of World Heritage: The Case of Tourists Visiting the Algarve (Portugal)

Claudia Helena Henriques, Isabel Teotónio
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3156-3.ch012
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This chapter offers an in-depth analysis of cultural tourism and namely of tourists' awareness of Portuguese World Heritage (WH). In accordance, firstly, there is the discussion of a theoretical framework associated to a cultural role and cultural identity in the sustainable development of tourism is presented. Secondly, it follows a case study approach based on the evaluation of Algarvian tourists' awareness of Portuguese WH. A questionnaire was applied in the Algarve region with the aim to determine the importance of cultural motivation and the level of knowledge regarding Portuguese culture by tourists. The results of this exploratory analysis underline the growing importance of cultural motivation and the recognition of culture's importance in the sustainable development of destinations. However, it also shows the low level of cultural motivation by Algarvian tourists as well as the low level of Portuguese WH knowledge, namely by foreign tourists. Nationality, age, academic background are key variables in tourism knowledge about Portuguese culture.
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Theoretical Framework

“Tourism is the world’s third largest export category after chemicals and fuels, and ahead of automotive products and food” (UNWTO, 2019, p. 8). In 2018, tourism “accounted for 10.4% of global GDP and (…) 10% of total employment [in the world]. The division of money spent overall is firmly weighted towards the leisure market, which represented 78.5% of the total compared with 21.5% for business spend” (WTTC, 2019: ii). In accordance, as UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashv (in UNWTO, 2019, p. 2) underlines, “tourism is helping build better lives for millions of individuals and transforming whole communities” and consequently it is desirable that it continues growing “more in value rather than just in volume” (WTTC, 2019).

Documents such as “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030 – Highlights” (UNWTO/UN, 2017) and “Baseline Report on the Integration of Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns into Tourism Policies” (UNWTO, 2019), point out the importance of tourism in the enhancement of sustainable development and the need of “interconnectivity” with other sectors, such as the cultural and creative sector. Once culture is presently recognised as the fourth dimension of sustainability, efforts are being enhanced to its integration across Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1.

The 4thUNWTO/UNESCO (2019) “World Conference on Tourism and Culture: Investing in future generations” (in the sequence of Siem Reap, Muscat and Istanbul Declarations) concentrates “on technology, visitor management models and the approaches” that potentiate the widest possible “range of benefits to both visitors and locals, while safeguarding cultural values and heritage in line with responsible tourism principles and the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism” (UNWTO, 2019a).

Tourism is an “encounter” with the “other”. Consequently, a broader understanding should “interpret the encounter between destination and tourists as the convergence of emotions and activities being an existentially authentic process of interactions that may lead to experiences for both sides (…). It must also be clear that main or side tourism attractions are just expressions of a destination’s culture and not its embodiment” (Gisolf, 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

World Heritage Value: Value associated to the designation of Outstanding Universal Value. A property that fulfil “one or more of ten criteria” (see UNESCO) and meet the conditions of integrity, authenticity, and should have an adequate system of protection and management in order to promote its safeguard.

Cultural Tourism: Type of tourism associated to the “cultural encounter”.

Sustainability: Associated to principles such as conservation, preservation, equity, long term, partnerships enhancement (see Agenda 2030).

Algarve: A geographic and cultural region of the South Europe – Portugal.

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