Aldeias do Xisto - Centro de Portugal

Aldeias do Xisto - Centro de Portugal

Portugal
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Schist Villages Network is a sustainable development project of a regional scope, promoted by ADXTUR — Agência para o Desenvolvimento Turístico das Aldeias do Xisto, in a partnership with 16 counties of the Centre Region and over 70 operators with businesses on this territory. ADXTUR is joining forces, both public and private, for the promotion of a territory, the creation of wealth through touristic services and the preservation of the culture, the heritage of the rural Inland Portugal.
Through Aldeias do Xisto Network project, the Centro region of Portugal starts abandoning the stigma of human desertification, forest fires, private sector's inertia and lack of local identity. The direct contact with populations and their culture, as well as enjoying the natural landscapes are another attraction of this brand, making it a differentiated tourist destination in Portugal.
In the overseas markets the brand Aldeias do Xisto is promoted by Centro de Portugal.

Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

Casa Amarela Largo de Santa Cristina

City

Viseu

State/Province
Postal/Zip Code

3500 - 181

Country
Year innovation began

2001

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourism management and impact on the destination

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Geographic location

Rural, Mountain.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of collaboration

Main insight addressed

Incorporate sustainable practices

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

The Aldeias do Xisto Program was implemented starting at 2001 by the Commission for Coordenation and Regional Development of the Central Region (Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Centro – CCDRC), using EU funds through the Operational Program of the Central Region (Measure II.6, FEDER). 24 villages in 14 councils were chosen from the territory known at the time as Pinhal Interior. The candidacy of these villages to the Program and its funds was promoted by the respective Municipalites through the elaboration of “Village Plans”, by a specialised and multi-discipline team. The Village Plan is a working document that translates a deep study of the village, its surroundings and its population. From this study, essential action items were defined in order to promote development of this territory. Devolopment that included installation of basic infrastructure like sanitation, water and electricity, restoration of public buldings and places, as well as restoration of private buildings. These were years of rather careful work, promoted by the Municipalities, the objective being the preservation of their heritage and the creation of better life condition for the local people.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

The Aldeias do Xisto program also promoted local products, tourist animation in the villages and the improvement of their inhabitants and economic forces through professional training. The highest point of these interventions is centered on people, I.e. there is a development strategy that, although gives priority to the bettering of the territory's tourist activities, has always had as a final benchmark the bettering of the quality of life of the people living there, creating jobs and improving the human resources so that a new economic base can grow.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

During the last years, the 24 villages in Aldeias do Xisto were benefited from a restoration project that let them gather human potential for development: the “Program of the Aldeias do Xisto” had as fundamental vectors the recovery of traditions, the valorization of the existing architectural heritage, giving impulse to traditional arts and trades and defending and preserving the surrounding landscape. This important work, promoted by the Commission for Coordenation and Regional Development of the Central Region (Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Centro – CCDRC), never lost sight of what was its prime objective: to better the quality of life of people living in villages, raising their self-esteem, ennobling their social fabric and joining them in a participative project that is, before anything else, theirs. Nowadays, the Aldeias do Xisto have become very attractive places for tourists, sufficiently dynamic to the point of having created a new economic base of capturing visitors and of private investment.
The project has already broadened its brand to sub-brands and complimentary projects: the Aldeias do Xisto shop network -that sells local products, the Leisure Calendar of the Aldeias do Xisto - a permanent program of events planned with the local partners, the fluvial beach network - that joins some of the most amazing shores on the area. In the Portuguese market, the Aldeias do Xisto brand has been directly responsible for a growth in visitors to the area, as well as serving as a way of securing private investment for the villages.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Mainly with tour operators, whose enterpreneural culture would be a clear compromise with sustainable development and with social responsibility towards the Destination.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

To stop physical and human desertification by creating conditions for the innovation of local economy.

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

The new investments that have been made in all the 24 Schist Villages: accomodation; restaurants; active enterprises; shops network and new jobs' creation. Besides these indicators, the rehabilitation of rural heritage is at this date a reality. See: http://www.aldeiasdoxisto.pt

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

The most clear example of that is the fact that tour operator Wikinger Reisen was awarded Silver Palm by Travel Magazine Geo Saison in the last ITB, considering the Schist Village programme one of the best discovery travels in 2007.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

The most interesting example among others is the Talasnicos - a sweet made with local products, mainly chestnuts and honey - created by a 75 years-old lady. It's a clear example of the engagement of local population and its innovation ability, taking advantage of local resources.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

The rehabilitation of the Villages starts with a Village Plan that was a working document that translates a deep study of the village, its surroundings and its population. From this study, essential action items were defined in order to promote development of this territory. Devolopment that included installation of basic infrastructure like sanitation, water and electricity, restoration of public buldings and places, as well as restoration of private buildings.
Nowadays with all the villages' rehabilitation the self esteem of local population is a fact and this is the main factor for travellers to understand how important it was to develop a project in such a depressed area both in physical and in human terms.

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The candidacy of these villages to the Program and its funds was promoted by the respective Municipalites through the elaboration of “Village Plans”, by a specialised and multi-discipline team. The Village Plan is a working document that translates a deep study of the village, its surroundings and its population. From this study, essential action items were defined in order to promote development of this territory. Devolopment that included installation of basic infrastructure like sanitation, water and electricity, restoration of public buldings and places, as well as restoration of private buildings. These were years of rather careful work, promoted by the Municipalities, the objective being the preservation of their heritage and the criation of better life condition for the local people.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

Annual budget

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

To attract more private investments

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Lack of budget

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

The inspiration comes from the management model of the project. According to the necessities of the territory, defined together with the public and private partners, have been created working groups in the following sectors: Beaches Environment, Game and Fishing, Territory Planning and Urban Regulations, Tourist Products, Network of Aldeias do Xisto, Shops, Training and Quality. The project has already broadened its brand to sub-brands and complimentary projects: the Aldeias do Xisto shop network -that sells local products, the Leisure Calendar of the Aldeias do Xisto - a permanent program of events planned with the local partners, the fluvial beach network - that joins some of the most amazing shores on the area. In the Portuguese market, the Aldeias do Xisto brand has been directly responsible for a growth in visitors to the area, as well as serving as a way of securing private investment for the villages.
In the overseas market the brand Aldeias do Xisto is already being sold by German Tour Operators, mainly by Wikinger Reisen, revealing that it's possible to create, with success, low touristic density packages (max. 12 persons) with environmental and social responsibility towards the Destination.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

The Schist Villages Network is a sustainable development project of a regional scope, promoted by ADXTUR — Agência para o Desenvolvimento Turístico das Aldeias do Xisto, in a partnership witj 16 counties of the Centre Region and over 70 operators with businesses on this territory. ADXTUR is in this fashion the joining of forces, both public and private, for the promotion of a territory, the criation of wealth through touristic services and the preservation of the culture, the heritage of the rural Inland Portugal. Through a coordinated development of this land, against the human desert, against oblivion.

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

The Schist Villages Network is a sustainable development project of a regional scope, promoted by ADXTUR — Agência para o Desenvolvimento Turístico das Aldeias do Xisto, in a partnership with 16 counties of the Centre Region and over 70 operators with businesses on this territory. ADXTUR is joining forces, both public and private, for the promotion of a territory, the creation of wealth through touristic services and the preservation of the culture, the heritage of the rural Inland Portugal.
Through Aldeias do Xisto Network project, the Centro region of Portugal starts abandoning the stigma of human desertification, forest fires, private sector's inertia and lack of local identity. The direct contact with populations and their culture, as well as enjoying the natural landscapes are another attraction of this brand, making it a differentiated tourist destination in Portugal.
In the overseas markets the brand Aldeias do Xisto is promoted by Centro de Portugal.