The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet and for the Economy, Pedro Siza Vieira, and the Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, will be present today, 18th July, in Janeiro da Cima for the public presentation of the certification of Dark Sky Schist Villages as a “Starlight Tourism Destination”. It will be the high point of a great week for Schist Villages (Aldeias do Xisto) in which the river will be joined to the stars and the arts to science.
The Starlight Foundation will accredit Dark Sky Schist Villages with the international certification of “Starlight Tourist Destination”, making it the second Portuguese destination to obtain such certification. This project is led by ADXTUR in partnership with the Dark Sky® Association and has as its co-promoter the Intermunicipal Community of the Coimbra Region. The network of partners is completed by the Institute of Telecommunications of the University of Aveiro and the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto.
Along with the excellent conditions of visibility, clearness and darkness of the sky, the certification also attests to commitment by public, private and scientific bodies as well as the preparedness and the quality of tourist services, augmented by the genuine interest of the resident community.
This summary of factors favors a new tourist positioning that goes beyond mere observation of the sky to assume as a strategic bet that reconciles tourism development with economic, social and environmental sustainability, thus transforming an apparent weakness of the territory into a distinctive asset of economic and cultural value.
The contemplation of the firmament that stands before our eyes, in a deep sea dotted with stars, galaxies, planets and distant nebulae, translates into more than a pleasant visual experience, scientific or poetic, because it refers us to our imaginary from the child ... to that magical place where all dreams are possible to attain and the genuine purity of simplicity, recognizes in the starry sky an intangible heritage without limits or borders of any creed, politics or religion. Through the silence of the night, natural moments of inner reflection make us more easily aware of the greatness of the universe around us and the importance of taking care of our own planet.
The expansion of the Dark Sky® territory is a natural result of the work of Dark Sky® Alqueva since 2007, at a time when the night sky was not recognized as a potential tourist resource and as a mobilizer of a sustainable development strategy. The partnership with ADXTUR comes naturally and is the result of a past of mutual recognition of the work developed that finally joins to give rise to the Dark Sky Schist Villages (Dark Sky Aldeias do Xisto). They are two destination brands that bet on an integration of strategies to respond to the challenges that are posed in the development of tourism in the interior, which must be marked by differentiation, respect for cultural identity and quality.