Participatory Sustainable Tourism Planning

In 2010, the Regional Directorate for the Environment, the Regional Directorate of Tourism, the Regional Directorate of Forestry Resources, the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, the Azores Geopark, the municipalities of Nordeste and Povoação, other institutions, private touristic companies and local people started a participatory process in order to develop a Strategy and Action Plan to promote the Lands of Priolo as a Sustainable Tourism destination.

This process led to the definition of a first action plan for five years (2012-2016) with 55 concrete actions. By 2016 66% of the plan was fully implemented and up to 88% was at least started. In 2016 this action plan was evaluated and a new action plan was developed with 77 actions and new partner institutions. The private tourism companies could also actively participate in the sustainable tourism plan through their own commitments by signing into the Priolo Brand.

This sustainable tourism planning was awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.

  • European Commission funding through LIFE Programme;
  • Willingness to participate in the touristic management process by all stakeholders involved;
  • Diagnosis of tourism resources and sustainability issues.


  • This participatory tourism planning has been a continued learning process for all entities involved and it is still a work in progress in terms of creating an actual sustainable destination, however some important improvements have already been made;
  • Improving inter-institutional collaboration is vital in order to improve efficiency in developing a sustainable tourism destination, this might be the greatest achievement of this process;
  • Sharing knowledge between regional government departments, NGOs and tourism companies can enrich the decision-making process and help with finding more innovative and practical solutions for some governance and management problems;
  • Continuous monitoring of implementation and sustainability indicators is very helpful in order to ensure results;
  • Maintaining interest and involvement of all stakeholders is very demanding and requires constant attention and feedback. Also, it requires a good understanding of the motivation of each stakeholder, and some care in trying to deliver expected results as well as manage expectations in order to avoid disappointment.