Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1119–1135 | Cite as

Demand of the tourists visiting protected areas in small oceanic islands: the Azores case-study (Portugal)

  • Rose Emília Queiroz
  • José Guerreiro
  • Maria Anunciação VenturaEmail author
Case Study


In general, tourism plays a significant role in the economy of archipelagos and islands. The Autonomous Region of the Azores has a great potential for tourism, offering multiple attractions, both natural and cultural, creating a big challenge for a sustainable tourism policy since little attention has been paid to the archipelagos and their special needs. This work aims to understand the profile and type of ecotourist that visits the Azores. This knowledge is of great importance for a better management and development of nature-based tourism, and products tailored to the needs and expectations of visitors. The data were collected by means of exit surveys conducted at the Airport of São Miguel Island, the larger and most populated island of the archipelago, during the high tourist season—July–September 2009. The analysis of the visitor’s profile and preferences is crucial to draw adequate strategies of management for tourism, while it helps to adequate the offer to the demand. Results showed that 41.1 % of the tourists claimed to be attracted to the islands due to their “natural values” (e.g., landscape, biodiversity, and geodiversity). The most practiced activities were whale-watching (32.4 %) and mountaineering/hiking (31.6 %), followed by diving (7 %) and other sports (5.1 %). The tourists’ profile points to a mainstream, soft, and incidental type of ecotourist. This information helps to develop and support a strategic planning and management, both at local and regional levels, for sustainable tourism policies.


Tourism demand Tourists’ profile Ecotourism Small islands Azores archipelago 



This study is part of the FCT financed project PTDC/AAC-AMB/104714/2008 (Operational Competitiveness Program COMPETE) and was also supported by a PhD scholar awarded to Rose Emília by DRCTC (Azorean Government) M3.1.2/F/011/2008. We greatly appreciate the statistical assistance provided by professors: Paula Vicente (ISCTE-IUL -Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa) and Henrique Cabral (Departamento de Biologia Animal - Centro de Oceanografia/Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa). We would also like to thank Eurodissea scholar Nathalie Marquet for helping with data collection, and three anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rose Emília Queiroz
    • 1
  • José Guerreiro
    • 2
  • Maria Anunciação Ventura
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, CIBIO/InBio, Pólo Açores, Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade dos AçoresPonta DelgadaPortugal
  2. 2.Centro de OceanografiaFaculdade de Ciências de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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