9 July 2012

The abstract

A Region as Destination: Towards a Place Branding Strategy for the Northwest of Portugal

Department of Spatial Planning & Environment, 
Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen,The Netherlands

Branding, aims to make a place, as a nation, a region, a city or a destination stand out in the global economic marketplace. A place branding strategy asserts the place’s uniqueness and factors of differentiation. The assertion of uniqueness often emphasises the historical, social, human, and cultural assets of the community, and destinations are adopting, progressively, brand and marketing approaches to emphasize unique elements. The concepts of place branding, destination branding and marketing, are well documented in the literature but their application in Portugal is relatively new. We can find recent studies in city branding, but by looking to the regions of the country as destinations, some work can be done.
The aim of this preliminary research is to explore a potential place branding strategy for the northern part of Portugal by concentrating our effort on the region as tourism destination. Our argument is that the tourism activity represents a key sector in the economy of the Northwest region and is fundamental for a necessary economic transformation. Hence, should be integrated in one wide regional strategy linked to the national and European priorities. The region has a considerable potential as tourism destination and that can contribute towards a place branding strategy, strong enough to create a new regional dynamic and to face the contemporary challenges of the region (i.e. economic stagnation, unemployment, weak economic confidence, stagnation of the tourism activity). Theoretically, the starting point is taken in the place and destination branding theories as spatial planning and place management instruments in order to understand the common ground as well as the boundaries between branding a nation, a city or a region. More than answers, we intend to raise questions to open doors for future discussions and to contribute to the theoretical debate in place branding as a regional development strategy.

Keywords: Place branding; Destination branding; Northwest of Portugal.
Words: 300.
Nature of the presentation: Academic.
Destination Branding & Marketing IV Conference
Cardiff Metropolitan University