20th January 2021

Featured Review: Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal ed. by Clara Sarmento and Sara Cerqueira Pascoal

The current cultural turn in tourism and related research methodologies has led to the development of business strategies where culture and creativity play a relevant role in the branding of competitive cities, regions and countries, using innovation and technology to promote their international image.

In their new volume, Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal, co-editors Clara Sarmento and Sara Cerqueira Pascoal present this turn as both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is to develop routes of cultural tourism in the North of Portugal, while empowering and engaging communities in the protection of their cultural heritage. The challenge is promoting sustainable tourism, with an impact on economic growth, poverty reduction, environmental protection and the preservation of authenticity in culture and heritage.

We are delighted to share a new review of the volume from Professor Cândida Cadavez of the Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, who has kindly granted us permission to publish the review in full.


The globalized times we live in seem to find, in the most diverse forms of heritage, valid and solid representations of identities that are apparently being threatened by modern liquidities (Bauman, 2000). More than ever before, heritage is acknowledged and valued as a repository of unquestionable and authentic memories that show the very essence of communities and their history. Heritage helps us make sense of who we are, how we want to be seen, and what we can (not) refer to.

In recent years, more and more heritage has been identified, recognized, and protected by UNESCO. The European Union dedicated 2018 to the evoking of cultural heritage, thus intending to remind us all of the importance of memory and heritage as a way to accomplish respect and to safeguard both common values and differences (European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018). The United Nations World Tourism Organization “provides support to its members in building and strengthening cultural tourism policy framework, strategies and product development in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the principles laid out in the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism", while reinforcing the role played by cultural tourism as an "essential motivation (…) to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination”  (UNWTO).

At the same time, both younger and older generations appreciate how heritage promotes conviviality and is a powerful motivator for all sorts of events and festivities. In addition, tourists and travellers consider heritage as a strong trigger for experiencing and getting in contact with the authentic cores of the host communities they visit.

Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal is an eleven-chapter book edited by Clara Sarmento and Sara Cerqueira Pascoal and released by the leading Cambridge Scholars Publishing. It provides readers with serious and academic contributions that reflect a very informative and engaging way to look at heritage and cultural tourism in the second decade of the 21st century. Sarmento and Pascoal are well-known names in the fields of Portuguese Culture, Intercultural Studies and Communication, and Tourism and Heritage. In this project, they host almost thirty authors, whose distinct academic and research backgrounds perfectly match the multi- and interdisciplinary focus that cultural tourism and heritage deserve nowadays. Tourism; cultural and literary tourism; tourism planning and tourism behaviour; Portuguese culture and cultural heritage; heritage management; anthropology, archaeology, museology, and sociology; engineering and computing; marketing and advertising; artificial intelligence; and the economy—these are some of the perspectives from which the reader of the volume is led to the heritage and to cultural tourism experiences in northern Portugal, a region in which tourism developed significantly in the past, thus seriously impacting social routines and destination images.

The editors state that “Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal is the narrative of both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity to develop routes of cultural tourism in the North of Portugal, while empowering and engaging communities in the protection of cultural heritage. And the challenge to enhance sustainable tourism, with an impact on employment, economic growth, poverty reduction, environmental protection, and the general preservation of authenticity in culture and heritage" (ix). Yet Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal is a lot more than this.

The eleven chapters that compose this book are organized in three parts— “Cultural Routes on the City’s Walls”, “Research and Cultural Entrepreneurship”, and “New Discoveries by the Portuguese Sea”. As suggested by the titles of these sections, the reader has the opportunity to get acquainted with studies that focus not only on more canonical tourism-related cultural representations, but also on innovative manifestations of cultural heritage that attract the current tourist gazes. Regardless of the focus, these chapters are clear results of comprehensive and careful academic research combined with hands-on experiences and know-how. 

Easy-to-read texts and several types of illustrations invite the reader to different routes inhabited by heritage and appealing to cultural tourists. From the novelty of street art and city art, appreciated as authentic representations of communities mainly by younger generations of travellers and as tools that promote the three pillars of sustainability in 21st-century tourism practices, to the new forms of branding destination even when dealing with more canonical experiences; from the new habitus of gazing and being a tourist that derive from recent technologies and the automatic generation of routes to the adaptation to the needs of the new profiles of tourists and travellers looking for a much wider range of offers than before—all of these, and much more, is tackled by Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal in a multidisciplinary and stimulating deconstruction of heritage and cultural tourism practices.

Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal should be acknowledged as an important reference mainly for researchers, scholars, and students who are interested in the subjects presented right in the title. However, this book will also attract and enlighten readers with other interests who want to learn and expand their knowledge of topics related to the growing importance of heritage and cultural tourism as a means for preserving and stimulating the memories and community cohesion so hardly needed nowadays.

Reviewed by Cândida Cadavez,

Escola Superior de Hotelaria e Turismo do Estoril

HTC | História, Territórios, Comunidades – CFE | Nova FCSH

Cultural Tourism and Heritage in Northern Portugal is available now from the Cambridge Scholars website, where you can also access a free 30-page sample from the text.