Tourism planning and development: The case of Portugal’s Norte region

Ana Paula Lopes, Filomena Soares


Tourism has been gaining increasing importance in the global economy, in general, and, more specifically, in Europe, Portugal, and smaller areas such as Portugal’s Norte region. The north of Portugal has a rich cultural, historical and architectural landscape heritage, including some pearls that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has classified over the years as World Heritage Sites. With its wide-ranging impact on economic growth, employment and social development, tourism can be a powerful tool with which to shape the Portuguese economy, contributing to the country’s competitiveness, richness and cohesion. Therefore, the government and tourism stakeholders have recently made a stronger commitment to developing this sector.

The goal of this study was to analyse tourism policies’ contributions to the development of tourism sector in northernmost region of Portugal, included in the National Strategic Plan for Tourism (PENT) and in the Regional North Tourism Agenda (ART). This study sought to achieve these objectives by focusing on two main aspects. First, it examined the characteristics of the sector, identifying the tourism products in Norte region. Second, this research analysed the overall picture of the sector’s development between 2004 and 2014, for that we made a descriptive analysis of the main tourism indicators based on data collected from several sources, namely the Instituto Nacional de Estatística (National Statistics Institute) (INE), PENT, the Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Norte (Northern Portugal Regional Coordination and Development Commission), Turismo de Portugal (Tourism of Portugal) and Turismo do Porto e Norte de Portugal (Tourism of Oporto and Northern Portugal). The results reveal that investment in tourism in the Norte region has included offering eight primary tourism products and differentiators in four tourism subregions (i.e. Oporto Metropolitan Area, Alto Minho, Douro and Terras de Trás-os-Montes). Comparing the forecast values in terms of overnight stays, tourists and revenue set by PENT, the reality showed that the results were a little bit far from the expected; however the findings confirm the common perception that Portugal’s Norte region is still experiencing a trend towards growth as a tourist destination.


Norte region, sustainable tourism, tourism planning, regional competitiveness

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