Ericeira, Portugal Makes a Splash as a Model for Sustainable Rural Tourism

Ericeira, Portugal Makes a Splash as a Model for Sustainable Rural Tourism

A new EU study examines how tourism can benefit rural areas. It highlights the potential for economic growth, job creation, and cultural preservation. The study also identifies challenges in rural tourism like infrastructure limitations and environmental impact. Successful strategies from Spain, Poland, and Portugal are included to help local governments develop effective rural tourism. In this example I focus on the good example of Ericeira, Portugal that is one of the examples in the study. The choice to focus on Ericeira in particular is that I myself visited the village a few years ago and can agree that it is an extraordinary example.

Ericeira, Portugal Makes a Splash as a Model for Sustainable Rural Tourism

Ericeira, a charming coastal village near Lisbon, Portugal, is riding a wave of success as a sustainable rural tourism destination. This small town, long a haven for surfers, is being recognized for its efforts to balance economic development with environmental protection and cultural preservation.

Ericeira’s journey began in the 1970s when surfers discovered its perfect waves. This led to the designation of Ericeira as a World Surfing Reserve in 2011, solidifying its reputation as a global surfing hotspot. However, Ericeira isn’t just about catching waves. The village maintains its deep-rooted fishing tradition and hosts cultural events like the Sea Urchin International Festival, attracting visitors year-round.

Understanding the importance of its natural beauty, Ericeira prioritises sustainability. The municipality of Mafra, where Ericeira is located, became a Biosphere Destination in 2021. This prestigious title signifies Ericeira’s commitment to responsible tourism that fosters a healthy balance between human activity, environmental protection, and cultural heritage.

Concrete actions are being taken to achieve this balance. The Local Stewardship Council of the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve, established in 2017, plays a crucial role. The council recently designated a 15-hectare area for permanent preservation and allocated a significant budget for a new sewage treatment system. These initiatives aim to safeguard the coastline, restore native habitats, and improve water quality.

Looking ahead, Ericeira is collaborating with neighbouring municipalities to establish a Marine Protected Area. This collaborative effort, backed by substantial funding, will further protect the region’s marine ecosystem.

Ericeira’s success story doesn’t go unnoticed. In 2023, the village was named one of the UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages. This recognition highlights Ericeira’s commitment to sustainable practices that ensure a thriving tourism industry alongside a protected environment and cherished cultural heritage.

By LarsGoran Bostrom

European trends News


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