ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS OF TOURISTS: A FACT OR A MYTH?

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Patrícia Oom do Valle
Manuela Guerreiro
Júlio Mendes

Keywords

Tourism destination, Nature-based tourism, environmentally friendly values

Abstract

The Algarve is a mature destination in the south of Portugal and is mainly wellknown for its offerings of sun and sea. Aside from its problem of strong seasonal changes, the region also faces strong competition from other nearby destinations that has impacted its need to better attract tourists. As regional stakeholders have recognized the necessity to diversify the tourist experience, a strong effort has been dedicated to the development of complementary tourist products, with special attention on eco-tourism. Within this context, the present study used data from a survey of tourists who visited the Algarve during December 2010 (low season). An analysis was done to determine the extent to which tourists visiting the region would actively search for nature-relative activities and the profile of these individuals. In particular, the study aimed to understand whether these tourists share environmentally friendly values or, instead, are typical tourists who have chosen the Algarve based on its traditional attributes of appealing climatic conditions and beaches. Depending on whether nature-based tourism in the Algarve is a fact or a myth, strategies for repositioning the destination must be adapted, new tourist products must be proposed and communication campaigns need to be rethought.

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