On 19th and 20th November 2019, the TrailGazers Steering Committee held its second transnational meeting at the University of Algarve in Faro.
Best practice examples to maintain and develop Natured based Tourism Activity in protected areas
One of the key aims of this project is to determine the socioeconomic impacts that trail infrastructure investment can have on stimulating growth in local communities and to explore how this impact can be enhanced, in a manner that protects the natural and cultural assets that attracts visitors in the first place.
During the meeting the project partners presented several methodologies and best practices examples that will facilitate the calculation of returns on trail investments; allow for accurate data capture from trail users and stakeholders; deploy appropriate footfall technologies in a variety of geographical trail settings; explore how trail usage can be enhanced using social media, augmented reality applications, digital marketing tools etc and design sustainble community plans for different destinations.
During the second day, partners visited some trails in Loule, Albufeira and Lagoa municipalities. The São Lorenço trail is located in Quinta do Lago golf resort, borders of Ria Formosa Natural Park and the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the best practice examples of public private interest to maintain and develop tourism destinations in protected areas. The Paderne trail was developed with all attributes to ensure conservation of riverside flora and fauna in Albufeira and at the same time to be used as a linear corridor that connects the urban areas and beach. The Seven Hanging Valley trail, located on the coast of Carvoeiro village, was recently elected as one of the European Best Destinations. It is a recent investment of the municipality of Lagoa with objective to develop a trail of 6km along attractive coastal cliffs connecting the cultural and natural assets of caves of Benagil, the Senhora da Rocha church, the fishermen village Ferragudo, the lighthouse of Alfanzina and the dunes of Cova Redonda, Carvoeiro and Albandeira.
The economy of the region of Algarve is mainly driven by tourism, receiving more than a third of the total tourists in Portugal. More than 80 km of boardwalks and trails were constructed the last decade in the region of Algarve with objective to promote the natural capital of the region and to protect it from mass tourism. There are over 30 trails at different stages of development, which demonstrates high investment of municipalities in order to conserve natural and cultural heritage and also giving thousands of tourists the opportunity to discover the landscape of Algarve.
Recent trends tend to indicate an increase in nature-based tourism activity across the Atlantic Area. Nature-based tourism is an alternative to city tourism and sea and sun mass recreation, generating positive socioeconomic impacts. However, negative environmental impacts due to over tourism and uncontrolled stepping on fragile ecosystems, socio-cultural impacts associated with interactions between people with differing cultural backgrounds, and economic impacts due to high living costs within the community are often not sufficiently considered.
In response to the growing environmental concerns, government agencies and private organizations have invested in recreational trails across the Atlantic Area in order to maintain citizens and tourist’s connection with natural and cultural heritage and though stimulating local economies with employment creation, new products and service, enhancing the attractiveness of the regions as places to live, work and thrive.
Over the next 3 years, the TrailGazersBID will see 10 partners from different regions of Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal and France, examine how the right type of investment in trails can assist local communities, increase the number of visitors and provide sustainable community trail management plans that protect the area’s natural and cultural assets.
This project is co-financed under Priority 4 ‘Enhancing biodiversity and the natural and cultural assets’; Programme Objective 4.2 ‘Enhancing natural and cultural assets to stimulate economic development ‘of the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme through the European Regional Development Fund.
If interested in finding out more about this project or how to become involved please contact your regional partner whose contact details are outlined below.
For further information:
Senior Executive Engineer,
Community & Enterprise,
Sligo County Council