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Context of the Summit

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International Summit: Cultural Sustainable Destinations without Borders

A summit aimed at discussing, reflecting and raising awareness of a common policy directed to alternative destinations. 

The absence of a concrete definition for an alternative destination leads to the difficulty of creating a common understanding. In this context, and in order to mark out the framework of the discussion, it is therefore necessary to outline and define the term "Alternative Tourism" as focus on the panels that set the summit. 

  • In the book "Tourism in destination communities ", S. Singh, DJ Timothy Dowling and RK Singh, tourism is classified mass or alternative, being the latter considered "of special interest" or accountable.
  • In the book "Tourism Alternatives - Potentials and Problems in the Development of Tourism", by Valene L. Smith and William R. Eadington, it is read that "Alternative Tourism" emphasizes contact between local residents and the environment.
  • On the other hand, in the book "Ecotourism: Impacts, Potentials, and Possibilities" by Stephen Wearing and John Neil, the idea is defended that the alternative tourism privileges the natural, social and communitarian values and that it encourages the exchange of experiences between the tourist and the resident.
  • Finally, Erlet Cater, in the book "Ecotourism in the third world: problems for sustainable tourism development", it argues that the alternative tourism comprises activities in geographical areas of small scale, with the tourist revealing strong awareness of their role as an active agent for a solid and cohesive contribution to the target of the development process in the visited destination.

Based on these characteristics of alternative tourism, we consider that these are transposable to the categorisation of a concept of destination that is intended, in the case of the Historical Villages of Portugal, as an alternative .

Thus, with a completed framework of "The Alternative Tourism" and "Alternative Destination", the Summit seeks to discuss a management paradigm for the alternative destinations, whose policy is assumed in both a national and international context

For that matter, the celebration of the "International Summit: Cultural Sustainable Destinations without Borders" is based on seven premises:

  1. Reflection and definition of the concept "Tourism / Alternative Destination";
  2. In the panorama of macro tourism policy,create targeted mechanisms of action and regulation for alternative destinations, focused in sustainability, cooperation, destination qualification and their agents
  3. Construction of agreements for a financing policy (macro and micro) articulated with the specificities of these territories and their agents;
  4. Raise consciousness to the need of creating specific management measures aimed at responsible and sustainable tourism, so that alternative destinations are not targeted a process of gentrification that jeopardises the identity of the place and the interests of the local community;
  5. Given the specificity of alternative destinations and sustainable growth, build responsible forms of cooperation in the distribution and marketing sector in a multi-destination and multi- country context;
  6. Raise awareness to the need ofa framework for the development of public policies and business strategies, inan international scale,for alternative destinations, adapting it to the reality of each country;
  7. Within the tourism policy focused on alternative destinations, activate a work plan for the creation of areas / destinations in border regions  

Why an International Summit : Cultural Sustainable Destinations without Borders

The Association 'Aldeias Históricas de Portugal', as manager of an alternative tourist destination, has felt the absence of a common policy and intervention of clear measures in the territory. Gaps that, by themselves, justify a thorough discussion, awareness and reflection, which motivated the organization of the "International Summit: Cultural Sustainable Destinations without Borders".

Consequently, and for its experience, the association Historical Villages of Portugal considers that managing a sustainable and responsible tourism, must evolve a direction for a precept for alternative destinations, in order to converge to the long term sustainability. In addition, it is important to accelerate the process of implementation of the actions, through a common understanding regarding the framework of intervention for alternative destinations.

The future attribution of the BIOSPHERE DESTINATION certification as a sustainable tourist destination, increases the responsibility and commitment of the Association for the Historical Villages of Portugal towards the territory and its people, to the fact that it is the first time an entire region -yes, not one, but rather 12 destinations!- will receive the award.