Tourists and residents perceive Algarve tourism in positive light
Two studies presented last week have helped paint an updated picture of how residents and tourists view tourism in the Algarve. While tourists have a “very positive perception” of the Algarve, local residents recognise the sector’s vital importance to the region.
The studies – entitled RESTUR and TurExperience – were both carried out by the University of the Algarve’s Research Centre for Tourism, Sustainability and Wellbeing (CinTurs) and were officially unveiled at the headquarters of the regional tourism board (RTA) in Faro on Friday, February 17.
TurExperience looked into tourists’ perception of the Algarve and was based on a questionnaire answered by 2,027 people during the high season (July 1 to September 15) and 814 during the low season (rest of the year) from January 1, 2018 to May 31, 2022.
Respondents included tourists from Portugal as well as from some of the region’s main international markets, such as the UK, Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany and Ireland.
“How is the Algarve as a tourism destination experienced and perceived by tourists?” – this was the question researchers attempted to answer.
“Studies already exist about the profile of tourists visiting the Algarve, but an important aspect we aim to highlight here is that this study was carried out throughout the year. We did not restrict ourselves to just one month or two,” the study’s coordinator Manuela Guerreiro said.
In a nutshell, the findings show that tourists see the Algarve as a “reputable and trustworthy destination”, boasting a large number of returning visitors.
Tourists’ confidence in the region is, however, not linked to its “history and culture”, thus this is an area the Algarve should focus on.
“We should work harder to bolster our identity,” Guerreiro said.
The Algarve is also not perceived as an ‘eco-friendly destination’ – one of the biggest red flags detected by the study.
“The fact that we are not seen as eco-friendly is an issue that deserves attention. Aspects related to recycling and the way we treat waste are not yet being well-perceived. I believe there is work to do,” the researcher said.
João Fernandes, president of the Algarve tourism board (RTA), has expressed his delight with the study’s most positive conclusions.
“It is very comforting to know that tourists’ perception of our region is very positive in several areas,” he said.
Also presented at the event were the findings of RESTUR, which helped prove that residents value the role of tourism and its positive impact on the local economy, said Fernandes.
The study – which was based on the answers of 4,026 residents living across the Algarve’s 16 municipalities – found that the crushing majority (91.8%) believe that tourism contributes to the development of economic activities.
Almost all the participants (97.2%) said that they agree that tourism increases the number of job opportunities, while 87.3% said that tourism leads to the creation of more businesses.
The other side of the coin is that the vast majority of respondents (91.5%) believes tourism is to blame for the price increases of property, as well as the cost of living (86.4%) and goods and essential services (75.5%).
The study also found that most respondents work in the tourism industry (57%), while 47% have a family member working in the sector and 67% have some sort of income from tourism-related activities.
The social and cultural benefits of tourism are also recognised by residents – 74.6% believe that tourism contributes to the “recognition, prestige and image of their boroughs”, while 67.3% agree that it stimulates cultural activity, festivals and local traditions.
The downside is that nearly half of respondents think that tourism helps increase the consumption of drugs and alcohol (46.8%) and that it increases the stress levels of local residents (44.8%).
Regarding the environmental impact of tourism, 66.2% of participants believe that tourism leads to an increase in pollution, noise and rubbish, and 57.6% say that it leads to crowds in areas such as beaches or protected zones.
However, 88% of residents ultimately believe that their municipalities benefit from tourism and should remain tourist-focused.
Furthermore, 84% support the idea of continuing to invest in the development of the sector – although the percentage drops to 63% when development includes the construction of further facilities designed to attract tourists.
There is also some dissatisfaction regarding the way tourism is managed on a local level, with 34% reporting that they are unhappy with the way the sector is being managed in their borough.
The full findings of both studies are available online – https://turexperience.pt/ and http://restur.pt/.
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.