“This project contributes to reinforce the Azores’ position as a destination of excellence for nature tourism, promoting the concerted action of local entrepreneurs in the use of innovative marine tourism products, coupled with a high quality offer that promotes the sustainable use of the valuable geological, paleontological (in the sole case of Santa Maria Island) and biological heritage that differentiates the Azores from other archipelagos. Thus, SEASTOUR project aims the recognition but also the sustainable use of the most notable marine geological and biological elements characterizing many of the Azorean islands seascapes, leading to sustainable activities (according to the carrying capacity) and promoting a knowledge-based society. (e.g. new SCUBA diving hot spots to be exploited by diving companies)
The increased knowledge on local marine biodiversity including the presence of NIS/Invasive species, will support the data gathering and monitoring to report for Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD – 2008/56/EC Directive) that aims to achieve good environmental status (GEnS) of the EU’s marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resources on which socio-economic activities depend (Descriptor 1 – Biodiversity; Descriptor 2 – Non-indigenous species; Descriptor 6 – Seafloor integrity). RRI is furthermore a ‘cross-cutting issue’ in Horizon 2020 objectives. Also to inform, educate and inspire future citizens of the “Blue Society” rooted in the European vision on Ocean Literacy would be promoted by the establishment of relevant underwater trails based on the seascape value and promote their use by local diving companies. EU’s Blue Growth strategy identified the coastal and maritime tourism sector as an area with special potential to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe. SEASTOUR will contribute to this goal through high potential for economic growth and jobs creation.
Moreover, to promote seascape value as a major factor of attractiveness for tourism in the Azores will address two of the three main lines of the regional development plan, RIS3 (Tourism and the Sea), the policy guiding principles set out in the National/International Strategy for the Sea. The scientific knowledge that will result from the present project is also aligned with 2 of the 10 “”flag”” projects of RIS3 Azores: ATLANTIC PLATFORM, by promoting knowledge in the area of volcanology; and SMART TOURISM, through the new tourism products developed. This proposal is also aligned with axes 1, 3, 6, 8, 10 and 11 of PO AÇORES 2014-2020, and fits into the Smart Specialization Strategy for the Azores (RIS3), in the thematic area of “”Tourism””:
1) TUR1: Application of Information Techniques and Communication in Tourism in the Azores Archipelago;
2) TUR2: Identification and survey of specific tourist segments at international level, in the perspective of the development of sustainable tourism;
3) TUR3: Promoting collaborative relationships and innovative activities related to tourism.”