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Universities’ built heritage as a means to diversify urban tourist destinations’ cultural supply: the case of the University of Porto

Maria Teresa Gomes Leão (Department of Business Sciences, ISVOUGA, Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal and Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)
Filipa Aguiar Brandão (Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 15 July 2022

Issue publication date: 9 December 2022

47

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to illustrate the potential of the many centuries-old universities buildings, in European cities, in a historical, architectural, aesthetic and symbolic dimension to diversify and differentiate urban tourist destinations supply.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a qualitative study supported by the analysis of public and classified documents, for which the main source is based on webography, and by conducting interviews.

Findings

The deficit of cultural tours, in the dimension of built heritage, is identified as one of the weaknesses of the city of Porto, as tourist destination, to be overcome. The interviewees are unanimous in recognizing the cultural, architectural and aesthetic impact of the historic buildings of the University of Porto, and most of them strongly agree with the integration of this legacy into the tourist offer of the city. The strategic sense of the heritage is emphasized, because of its location in charismatic areas of the city. The practice of effective networking, however, falls short of what is required to achieve ambitious and consistent objectives.

Research limitations/implications

The practice of effective networking, however, falls short of what is required to achieve ambitious and consistent objectives.

Originality/value

Emphasis is placed on the cities’ built heritage as a type of heritage that defines their uniqueness. The dissemination of cultural itineraries, which allows tourists and the community itself a broader and deeper cultural knowledge, contributes to the effective understanding of historic cities’ tourism. Given the scarcity of studies on the relationship between historic university buildings and tourism, the relevance of research focuses on highlighting the contribution of these cultural elements, through a network-based dynamic, to urban tourism destinations’ attractiveness. In particular, the University of Porto's potential for the integration of structured tourism products that contribute to the diversification and differentiation of the city of Porto as a destination is illustrated.

Keywords

Citation

Leão, M.T.G. and Brandão, F.A. (2022), "Universities’ built heritage as a means to diversify urban tourist destinations’ cultural supply: the case of the University of Porto", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 1141-1162. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-01-2022-0020

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, International Tourism Studies Association.

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