ABSTRACT

Fonseca, C., Pereira da Silva, C., Calado, H., Moniz, F., Bragagnolo, C., Gil, A., Phillips, M., Pereira, M., Moreira, M., 2014. Coastal and marine protected areas as key elements for tourism in small islands. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 461–466, ISSN 0749-0208.

The Azores Archipelago (Portugal) is composed of 9 small islands located in the North Atlantic. To overcome the common challenges of this type of territory (e.g. isolation, closed systems, limited physical space and natural resources, endemism, small economies, small populations) and taking advantage of the natural and cultural heritage, the Regional Government of the Azores has based its Tourism Strategy on the high value of nature, landscape, flag species and outdoor experiences with a strong environmental friendly label. Pico Island offers the perfect scenario to enjoy such nature-based tourism activities, welcoming around 15,000 tourists per year, equivalent to the number of residents on the island. The island's natural and cultural heritage is outstanding and Pico Island Natural Park represents 35% of the territory, including several coastal and marine areas. Tourists' awareness about Pico protected areas, their activities and preferences can be extremely important to the management of the Island Natural Park. Integrated in the research project SMARTPARKS, a survey was conducted with 134 tourists, revealing the importance assigned to Pico protected areas and coastal zone. Among coastal and maritime activities, bathing and whale watching are the most frequent activities (57% and 44% of respondents, respectively) and 20% of respondents think whale watching should be promoted. This exploratory study gathered important information for decision-making agencies with respect to solving problems and possible solutions through tourism, namely the application of a fee system to help manage and conserve protected areas.

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