"The planning of tourism on rural areas: the stakeholders` perceptions of the Boticas municipality (Northeastern Portugal)"
Most of the strategies developed to “save” rural territories in Europe have not been successful. One of the main problems has been the adoption of the top-down paradigm in the approach to the development of those territories. Portugal is a good example of the difficulty of adopting a bottom-up paradigm. The main objective of this paper is to present the perceptions of the local (including the residents) and regional stakeholders acting at Boticas towards the set of resources available and the development of the tourism industry. Boticas is a Northeastern Portuguese rural low density municipality. Capturing those perceptions, the research aims contributing to the establishment of a more integrated and innovative development strategy and, this way, a more able one in what concerns profiting from the potential associated to the growing of the tourism industry experienced lately by Portugal. The adoption of a mixed-method to proceed to the evaluation of the resources and capturing the perceptions on their tourist potential kept by the different stakeholders is suggested. Empirical data was collected through a survey applied to 373 of its residents and 25 interviews conducted to local and regional actors, supported by an inventory performed of the cultural resources and its capacity of being visited. We could conclude that residents tend to have a very positive perception towards tourism development and that their perceptions largely met the ones of other stakeholders.
Keywords: Rural Development; Tourism Planning; Perceptions; Resources; Tourist Attributes; Stakeholders.