Douro Valley, Portugal

Leveraging the World Heritage status of Portugal's Douro Valley to support sustainable tourism development

  • Client: National Geographic Maps Division
  • Partners: Commissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Norte (CCDR-N), Estrutura de Missão do Douro, Turismo do Douro, Turismo de Portugal, Associação Rota do Vinho do Porto, Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), Direcção Regional da Cultura Norte (DCRN), Alto Douro Vinhateiro – Liga dos Amigos do Douro Património Mundial, UNESCO World Heritage Centre Sustainable Tourism Programme
  • Project Duration: November 2009 – October 2012

Project Description

The Douro Valley of Portugal has a stunning natural landscape, world-class historic sites and a fascinating cultural heritage that gives the region high potential for economic and social development through tourism. In order to reap more benefits from tourism, however, a greater awareness of the region’s unique assets and attractions needs to be raised. Additionally, a mechanism must be provided to foster collaboration of local governments, business owners, interest groups and residents, which can bring them together to work toward this common goal. Collaboration can increase the positive impact of tourism in the region and help manage the challenges that new development present. Linking conservation practices with local business interests helps preserve the region’s cherished cultural and environmental landscape.

In partnership with National Geographic, the Douro Valley Sustainable Tourism Initiative promotes sustainable tourism development and contributes to the region’s competitiveness as an international destination by facilitating collaboration between relevant business owners, local governments, interest groups and residents and helping market the region’s sustainable tourism assets. Solimar assisted in the implementation of key Douro Valley Sustainable Tourism Initiative activities such as the establishment of a Douro Valley Geotourism Stewardship Council and the development of marketing tools and strategies that contribute to the ongoing process of promoting this unique region to the world.

Major Activities

  • Branding: Establishing the Douro Valley brand as a sustainable World Heritage destination through innovative marketing services and network building and the creation of an online and print Douro Valley Geotourism MapGuide.
  • Incentivizing the travel trade: Using targeted marketing campaigns and online tools (website, social media, etc.) to increase awareness of Douro Valley as a sustainable tourism destination and increase visitation.
  • Building capacity: Equipping local stakeholders with the tools and abilities needed to ensure the preservation of the region’s cultural and environmental landscape while bolstering the capacity of local businesses to utilize sustainable operations.
  • Managing relationships: Establishing a Douro Valley Geotourism Stewardship Council and providing a mechanism for regional tourism businesses to better cooperate to achieve key goals that will increase profitability and manage local challenges.


  • Strategic plan for increasing sustainable tourism and competitiveness in Douro Valley
  • International conference on the capabilities of Geotourism and World Heritage to support positive economic growth
  • Creation of a multi-stakeholder council to handle destination management
  • A National Geographic co-branded website that provides information on sustainable tourism in the north and serves as a gateway for future geotourism-related solutions.


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