Tourist perceptions and uses of urban green infrastructure: an exploratory cross-cultural investigation

Terkenli, T., Bell, S., Toskovic, O., Tomicevic, J.D., Panagopoulos, T., Straupe, I., Kristianova, K., Staigyte, L., ‘O’Brien, L., Zivozjinovic, I. (2020).


Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) serves both inhabitants’ and visitors’ numerous and various needs. This research aimed to enhance knowledge regarding the role of UGI in urban tourism. The research questions addressed tourists’ perceptions of UGI, their understanding and uses of UGI, and the ways that this understanding influenced their travel choice to specific urban destinations. A cross-cultural comparative study among urban tourists was carried out in eight European countries. The selection of case studies followed a roughly comparative logic, employing the same on-site questionnaire survey administered in a sample of large and medium size cities in Southern European, Central European and Northern European countries. Looking from the perspective of the tourists’ countries of origin, our findings validate a well-established trend in international tourism, namely the fact that neighbouring countries tend to be the most significant tourist markets of an urban destination. The other major finding confirmed the most well-known tourist movement patterns of Northern and Central Europeans travelling to the Mediterranean for tourism purposes. While the study revealed that the majority of the tourists interviewed were not very familiar with the term ‘Green Infrastructure’, nor with specific UGI features offered in the visited cities, the importance of UGI was acknowledged and viewed in a mostly very positive light. The majority of respondents enjoyed visiting UGI and used it for some light physical activity or for purposes of relaxation, socialization, and in order to explore the culture and society of the destination city. The fact that most UGI in the case study cities is located around or within a short distance from important heritage sites provided UGI with an indirect possibility of being included in the tourists’ visiting plans. In conclusion, the results of this study may prove to be very helpful to local and regional authorities in considering how to plan, manage and promote an urban tourism destination’s green infrastructure as part of the tourism offer.

Keywords: European city; Green city branding; Green spaces; Tourist destination; Urban forest; Urban green tourism.

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