River tourism, leisure in inland waterways and local and regional development
This article starts from the research undertaken regarding river tourism and leisure in inland Portuguese waters. It highlights the importance of the river as a tourist attraction and as heritage. The conceptualization of river tourism is one of its contributions. It centres on the stricto sensu of river tourism, shows its range, its significant anchorage on territory and its importance for local and regional development. The retrospective analysis of the valorisation of rivers in Portugal highlights the potential of national territory and the relatively recent and timely nature of investments made to value the inland waters for leisure and tourism. The Douro river is a prime example of river tourism in Portugal. The data shows a very strong growth of passengers on the Douro waterway from 2011 on, explained fundamentally by the increase in passengers that partook in a river cruise in the same reservoir; an uneven importance of passengers on the berthing docks, with Régua, Sabrosa/Pinhão, Gaia and Barca d’Alva standing out; a significant seasonality on river cruises; and a prevalence for Portuguese people to take one-day cruises and international tourists to prefer boat-hotels cruises. The research suggests the importance of inventorying the national territory’s potential when it comes to river tourism and leisure in inland waters and to analyse and monitor demand to better manage supply.
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