The research aimed to “analyse the relationship between the connection to the place and the impacts perceived by residents in small cities concerning tourist activity”, reads a press release sent to Lusa.

The study, which was conducted among researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC) and the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu (IPV), included 350 inhabitants from several cities, including Aveiro, Covilhã, Figueira da Foz, Gouveia, Guarda, Leiria, Seia and Viseu.

According to the researcher and professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Arts of the University of Coimbra (FLUC), Cláudia Seabra, the residents’ view of the touristic activity is not well explored and, therefore, the investigation aimed to “close this gap in the literature and contribute to better planning of these destinations that, as a result of the pandemic, will have a greater demand”.

The explanation is because in “small cities, the spirit of community is still strong”, due to the resident population being mostly “elderly”.

According to the investigation, people in small towns and cities “are generally eager to meet new people and connect with other cultures and different generations.”

Instead of what is often perceived in the big cities, tourists are seen “as people who bring business opportunities, visiting bars, restaurants, hotels and attractions in the region, while buying local products to take away”, says researcher Cláudia Seabra, cited in the press release from the University of Coimbra.

The professor and researcher at the Centre for Studies in Geography and Spatial Planning (CEGOT) believes that the conclusions of this investigation can help “managers to provide long-term economic, social and cultural benefits to the local community, improving the quality of life and, thus, strengthening the place and the bond with the community”.

The research was funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).