Designing a Framework for Rural Community-Based Collaborative Cultural Mapping: The Fontoura Project




e-Tourism, Cultural mapping, Rural communities, Digital transformation, Participatory and collaborative design


The tourism sector has faced many challenges in recent years, and technology, more specifically through digital approaches, is becoming a valuable ally. This paper aims to understand how the use of digital tools in rural territories may empower local communities in activities such as cultural mapping with the aid of open-access platforms and in close connection with current trends in e-tourism. The research conducted and presented debates the challenge of drawing a collaborative and participative framework to engage and promote the tourism supply and demand ecosystem in these rural territories. Fontoura, situated in the Minho region of the Northwest of Portugal, is studied to understand how its historical, traditional, and cultural patrimony may promote the territory as a tourist destination. The research presented, which is still underway, resorts to a participative and collaborative design approach involving the rural community and is further supported by an extensive literature review. This comparative study includes the analysis of a small sample of similar projects conducted with rural communities, quantitative and qualitative data collection, and the development of participative and collaborative activities with the local community. Results achieved so far indicate that enabling the community members to participate in the process – through surveys (for tourists, visitors, and residents), interviews and focus groups (with the senior segment) – contributed to the building of a sense of community, unity, and a sense of belonging. These feelings drive the community members to provide the project with content for Fontoura’s cultural mapping and the other project’s expected results, such as the proposal of a framework for promoting collaborative design with a concern with InfoVis approaches when dealing with georeferenced tangible and intangible heritage and other tourism-related resources. Results also suggest that the proposed framework may contribute to similar actions in other rural territories seeking to discover and fuel their potential as tourism destinations. The work presented is in tune with current debates regarding the design of guidelines and recommendations suitable for rural communities in their quest for sustainability, digital transformation, and cultural and natural mapping.