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Adventure Tourism in the Azores & the Potential for Slow Adventure - Short Report

This report was developed as part of the NaTOUReza project to assess the potential for slow adventuring in the Azores. NaTOUReza is a Fundo de Maneio’s R&D initiative. It aims to contribute to the development of nature and adventure tourism in the Azores, through the identification of new opportunities for local businesses on these market segments. During the research process, the team came across the slow adventure concept and immediately identified its huge potential in the region. Therefore, the document comprises a brief analysis to the Azores and its tourism sector. It then focusses on the regional tourism strategy, tourism resources, tourism companies’ profile and visitors’ profile. It then reveals how the destination is regarded in the international market. The report is based on secondary data from other regional and international publications, but manages to clearly show the potential for slow adventure in the Azores.

Evolution of tourist demand in the Azores 2014-2018

Dashboard with the evolution of tourist demand in the Azores between 2014 and 2018 (in portuguese).

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Idealizing the adventure tourism experience: expectations and tourists’ profile

Adventure tourism is often motivated by a romanticized “adventure mythology”. Travelers idealize their adventure experiences and develop individual expectations, through these glamorized conceptions. However, research has focused primarily on motivations (why), on feelings participants undergo during this kind of experience (what), and on their satisfaction and future behavior. Studies on how tourists expect their adventure activities to unfold have not had the same attention, although the Experience Economy emphasizes the importance of minimizing customer sacrifice. In an emergent island adventure destination, the Azores, 393 questionnaires were gathered, in which 26 items regarding adventure tourism experience expectations were analyzed. CATPCA shows that tourists idealize their experiences based on six main components: physical engagement, interaction with nature, immersive fantasy, self-reliance, unpredictability, and preparation. Statistically significant differences were detected among sociodemographic variables, revealing two opposing self-assessment adventure profiles: “reluctant adventurers” and “eager adventurers”. A spectrum of adventure tourism experiences expectations is, then, proposed.