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Surveying tourists: an insight into Madeira on-field evaluation activities

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Abstract: What exactly do we know about tourist’s mobility behaviour? To give an answer to this query, Horários do Funchal has performed, during last summer, two evaluation campaigns simultaneously at the airport and port of Madeira. Results are already available and provide the baseline for the Destinations project and food for thought for integrated planning.


The growing number of tourists that Madeira has been welcoming raise a lot of challenges for local authorities, as the island is small and the majority of the area is protected. There is a need thus to perform integrated planning and this requires sound empirical evidences.


Horários do Funchal, which leads locally the Destinations project, has put in place a complex operation: to conduct two separate surveys in each one of the main “entrances” of the island, the airport and the cruise port. Considering that well-designed evaluation campaigns are a precondition for successful projects, the surveys intended to meet the majority of evaluation needs for the whole package of 14 measures developed in the region.


Regarding the study at the airport, worth-mentioning features include the possibility to thoroughly trace back the main tourism spots tourists have visited during their visit to the island, including information on the modal choices to get there. According to the main findings, the main important characteristic of the local public transport system seems to be the feeling of safety on-board and at bus stops, regarded as exceptional by hardly all the interviewees whereas the main bottleneck is the lack of information at bus stops.


At the port, the survey characterized the modes of transport used when tourists get shore both in Funchal and in other similar ports (this is the case of cities that also belong to the Destinations project, such as Las Palmas, which is an added asset of the campaign for the overall evaluation of the project).


Tourists arriving in Madeira prefer taking organized tours in rented bus (30%), leaving public transportation as a poorly use option with only 3% of preferences. However, in comparison with other ports of call, public transport usage is more or less similar.


With this information duly digested by the local consortium partners, integrated measures can be prepared and added to the current regional transport strategy, so as to pave the way for greener mobility solutions among tourists and locals alike in touristic cities located in islands.

Author: André Freitas  []