Enhancing Volcanic Tourism in Macaronesia: ULL’s Contribution to an Investigation

The fundamental geographical aspects of the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Cape Verde are their volcanic nature and island character. Over millions of years, the diverse landscapes of these archipelagos have been shaped by various eruptions, climate impact, and the sea, becoming the main socio-economic resource. A research team, including the University of La Laguna (ULL), has recognized these resources to promote volcanic tourism in these Atlantic archipelagos.

The ULL explains that volcanoes are a significant draw and serve as the key geotourism attraction in these territories. The team has been involved in a project aimed at conserving, protecting, and developing the natural and cultural heritage associated with the volcanic phenomenon in Macaronesia through volcano tourism. This initiative seeks to diversify the tourist offerings across the four archipelagos of Macaronesia.

The Volturmac project, led by the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands-INVOLCAN and involving nine partners from the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Cape Verde, has sought to strengthen volcanic tourism. Notably, full professors from the University of La Laguna, including principal investigator Javier Doniz Paez and participant researcher Esther Beltran Yanes, who are experienced in volcanic geography and its associated resources, were participants.

Volturmac, operational between January 2020 and December 2023, was funded under the INTERREG VA Spain-Portugal MAC 2014-2020 Territorial Cooperation Programme. The total budget amounted to 1.9 million, with the University of La Laguna’s share exceeding 197,000 euros.

Goals and Endeavors

The ULL outlines the specific objectives of the project, which included analyzing and identifying the potential of volcano tourism in Macaronesia, creating tourist itineraries and geo-routes to valorize the natural and cultural resources of the region’s volcanoes, and providing training on these resources for the tourism sector and business operators, particularly tourist guides.

The activities undertaken encompassed SWOT analysis on volcanotourism in Macaronesia, the identification and assessment of geological-geomorphological sites of interest, and the creation of volcano tourist itineraries, both in natural and urban areas. Furthermore, material to enhance the content of these itineraries was developed, and efforts were made to promote the natural and cultural assets of the volcanoes through the creation of tourist products.

Lastly, in the realm of training, a program pertaining to natural and cultural resources linked to the volcanic phenomenon was established, alongside a training program.The Evolution of Volcanic Tourism in Macaronesia

The University of La Laguna has actively participated in the Volturmac project, a significant initiative designed for economic actors, which also included a training program for tourist guides. The project involved extensive research activities across the four archipelagos of Macaronesia, encompassing a total of 28 islands.

The project’s ambitious objectives extended to various aspects, including the involvement of ten participating entities, the geographical scope covering multiple archipelagos, the participation of twenty researchers and an array of proposed activities. Additionally, the project saw the collaboration of researchers from Castilla-La Mancha, Granada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and Tübingen, as well as the welcoming of researchers, Erasmus students, and professors from various countries during their research stays.

Results and Implications

The primary outcomes of the project include the development of an online survey aimed at assessing the status of volcanic tourism in Macaronesia. Furthermore, numerous geological and geomorphological points of interest were identified across the visited islands, and geotourism routes were suggested for both natural and urban areas.

Significantly, the project focused on designing landscape itineraries and delivering online and in-person courses on the volcanic phenomenon and its geotourism potential to the general public, tourism entrepreneurs, and guides. These results provide a substantial foundation for the creation of new tourism products and experiences. According to Javier Dóniz, the diversification of leisure offerings in Macaronesia will not only enhance tourism but also contribute to the conservation and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage associated with the volcanoes of the region.

Future Prospects

The positive outcomes of the Volturmac project have paved the way for continued research efforts at the University of La Laguna for over a decade. This has led to their involvement in a new MAC project exclusively dedicated to geotourism in volcanic spaces in Macaronesia and Sao Tome and Principe, led by INVOLCAN. The new project aligns with the MAC-Green priority, focusing on ecological transition, green and blue economy development, climate change mitigation, and nature conservation.

In conclusion, the Volturmac project has not only resulted in significant findings and advancements in geotourism but has also set the stage for continued research endeavors and the development of sustainable tourism initiatives in Macaronesia.

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