The special vocation of Ponta Delgada to tourism is guaranteed by the natural beauty of its landscapes. Other strengths are its cultural wealth, the fact that it combines the largest regional offer of infrastructures, hotel, restaurant services, and planned activities. Ponta Delgada has more than half of the supply of the Azores hotel beds, 4.900 a total of 8.900. The natural coastline indicates the maritime vocation of this municipality that offers water sports like surf, windsurf, jet skiing, big game fishing, whale watching, and conditions for cruise ship tourism. The municipality also has beautiful and extensive botanical gardens and offers excellent conditions for the practice of various sports and outdoor activities. Open to the world, innovation and culture, with a universal and cosmopolitan vocation, Ponta Delgada is an irresistible invitation for those looking for the perfect combination of nature, history, culture and modernity, at any time of the year. Although the natural beauty of the municipality is the main touristic attraction, the traditions and culture also complement the local touristic offer. The insularity and geographical dispersion of the archipelago, so present since the colonialization in the 14th century, together with the earthquake-volcanic phenomena that shaped the geomorphology of the islands, have generated unique ways of life that are very easily recognized. The cult of the Holy Spirit, the religious festivities of Santo Cristo dos Milagres and other local traditional festivities show very genuine ways of being and thinking of the inhabitants of the municipality: the concepts of sharing and charity towards others and the Spiritual beliefs are characteristic of the local inhabitants and become one of the main reasons for the affection showed to those who visit us.
Reflection on the tourism in the pilot
The main characteristics of the tourists who visit us are identified according to the means of transport used to arrive here. Cruise tourism is mainly characterized by older people, usually accompanied looking for a more cultural visit in the central part of the city, or an excursion to the main localities of the municipality, usually adopting a trip of a day or two in maximum, in pre-payed packages. For tourists who come by plane, the characterization is not so homogeneous. They are either families or individuals of various ages, who usually rent a car and travel in a more or less planned way throughout the all island for a few days; apparently they interact more with the local population and appreciate the culture, gastronomy and landscape in a more or less intense way. Regardless of the means of transport used, all visitors recognize the municipality by the natural beauties easily identifiable in travel brochures and websites. The tourist flow increases significantly in the peak of the religious festivities already enumerated and, in these cases, there is an affluence of a differentiated tourist : the azorean emigrants in the USA, of 1st or 2nd generation that Return to the island to reminisce and revive the traditions.
Current waste management practices
The Hygiene and Cleaning Service of the City Council is responsible for the collection and transportation of municipal solid waste in all parishes of the Municipality. Routing of undifferentiated waste and packaging waste (paper / board, plastic and metal and glass) selectively collected is carried out for the entity responsible for its treatment and final destination – Association of Municipalities of the Island of S. Miguel.
In order to guarantee a quality collection service, the Hygiene and Cleaning Service provides residents with containers for the disposal of undifferentiated waste and promotes the distribution of ecopoints throughout the municipality, in order to encourage the practice of separating packaging waste. However, because the distribution of equipment is only the first step in the recovery of waste, a major challenge has been made with the youngest, with sensitization sessions in all the basic schools in the county, door to door and media campaigns of awareness and prevention on the growing problems of the solid waste and the available form to deal with them.
Impact of tourism on waste management
The impact of tourism on the production and management of urban waste is now being monitored. The big tourist boom is recent. It dates back to April 2015, so it is still premature to draw any conclusions on direct impacts. There has been an increase in waste production and economic recovery since the second half of 2015, with a slight increase in the amount of waste produced, in particular paper and board packaging waste, which is an indirect output of imports and consumption in the city, in particular by shops and restaurants. The increase in tourism flow, with direct results in increasing the production of waste from the accommodation units (traditional hotel, rural tourism, local accommodation), is not yet noticeable. In particular, there is a recovery in the area of construction, with an increase in the demand for rehabilitation of empty / vacant buildings in the center of the city of Ponta Delgada and an increase in the number of tourism companies associated with visiting programs ( sites, or nature activities) rather than a direct impact on waste production. It is true that these activities generate waste, but we are not yet able to directly assess their association with tourism.
The intention of Ponta Delgada, at the beginning of this process, is to identify with partners where tourism has been established for decades, how to reduce the problem of the production of waste associated with this sector of the economy, in order to preserve the origin of the tourist flow – the natural characteristics that make us unique and different.