The study, prepared by researchers from the Center for the Study of Geography and Spatial Planning of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Coimbra (FLUC), highlights that Madeira Island “was consecutively elected” as “Best destination Island in Europe” between 2013 and 2021 (only with the exception of 2015) and, cumulatively, “Best Island Destination in the World” between 2015 and 2020. Adding that “the notoriety of Cristiano Ronaldo influences a whole chain of attitudes, reactions and personal and social behaviours with a positive impact on tourism in Madeira”.
Compiled by Cláudia Seabra and Pedro Vaz Serra, the report concludes that "there is a relationship between the player's publications on social networks and the international awards won by the Atlantic island within the World Travel Awards (WTA)", with the researchers analysing the Portuguese international's publications on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google, between 2013 and 2019.
"It was found that the period of time in which the awards were given to Madeira coincides with a significant increase in the number of followers of CR7 [the acronym by which Ronaldo is known] – 114 million in 2013 to 401 million in 2019".
Also the current Manchester United player's “posting interactions” – between views, “likes”, comments and shares – increased more than 48 times between 2014 and 2019, from nearly 5 million to 232 million.
In a second phase, the study “intend to evaluate the cognitive, affective and spontaneous images of Madeira Island” based on a survey of almost 500 people, in which it was asked how Cristiano Ronaldo “influenced the image of his island of origin and why”.
According to the findings of the study, most respondents considered that Ronaldo “positively influences the image of Madeira, due to his high world notoriety, capacity for influence and also the fact that he was born on the island”.
“On the other hand, the results indicate that the natural attributes of Madeira Island prevail over any others, constituting positive differentiating factors”.
Cláudia Seabra and Pedro Vaz Serra maintain, in the document, that Cristiano Ronaldo's status “as a digital influencer is unanimous” and that the so-called 'Tourism Oscars' that Madeira has been consecutively obtaining “go far beyond” what the Atlantic island “represents in terms of a tourist destination”.
“Therefore, it is legitimate to question whether there is an external factor that influences the island's image and induces an expressive vote for those awards. The empirical data and the comparative analysis carried out support the association of phenomena between Cristiano Ronaldo and the temporal chronology of the Madeira awards”, they clarify.
The researchers also point out the “relevance of social networks as support vehicles for multi-scale marketing campaigns and actions and the potential of the relationship between digital influencers and the promotion of tourist destinations”.
They conclude by stating that “Portuguese media figures should be 'encouraged' and motivated by the Portuguese authorities to promote internationally” Portugal as a tourist destination.