Study evaluates the perception of residents in small cities about tourism activity

For residents in small towns, the socio-cultural impacts of tourism are more important than the economic impacts, concludes a study conducted by researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC) and the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu (IPV).

This investigation, which aimed to analyze the relationship between the connection to the place and the impacts perceived by residents in small cities in relation to tourism, involved 350 inhabitants of several cities, including Aveiro, Covilhã, Figueira da Foz, Gouveia, Guarda, Leiria, Seia, and Viseu.

“Research on residents’ views on tourism is little explored, especially in small towns. Therefore, this study aims precisely to fill that gap in the literature and contribute to a better planning of these destinations, which, as a result of the pandemic, will have a greater demand”, says Cláudia Seabra, researcher and professor at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Coimbra (FLUC).

An explanation for the data obtained in the study, financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), is related to the fact that “in small towns the spirit of community is still strong. People are more aware of the social effects that the development of tourism has on their lives than the economic or environmental effects. In general, small cities have a small and aging population, with fewer job opportunities, health care and large communication infrastructures”, says Cláudia Seabra.

In these communities, she says, “people are generally eager to meet new people and connect with other cultures and different generations. In general, the negative impacts of large urban centers where thousands of tourists flock are not felt. Tourists are seen as people who bring business opportunities, visiting bars, restaurants, hotels and attractions in the region, while buying local products to take away. On the other hand, tourists are sources of cultural rejuvenation”.

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