Sintra, Portugal | World Heritage Site Preservation

Gaia Heritage, 2006

In early 2006 Gaia-Heritage (Paris) was asked by the municipality of Sintra to prepare a strategy for the preservation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a 9.4 km2 area centered on the historic part of the city.  The site has a varied landscape of steep hills and forested areas, extending to a rugged coastal plain.  Due to its proximity to Lisbon, the region has grown by nearly 40% over the last ten years and poorly regulated development is threatening irreparable damage to the natural beauty of the site. As part of a multidisciplinary team consisting of an expert on the preservation of historic building and an expert on tourism, the Institute developed a regional growth management strategy consisting of:

  • The protection of the natural landscape and incentives for maintaining and expanding agricultural activities.
  • Development regulations to prevent suburban sprawl and ensure the compatibility of new construction in traditional villages.
  • Public improvements to increase the contribution of tourism in the regional economy.
These interventions would be financed by a new hotel room tax, a common occurrence in Europe.  At a rate of 4.5% its current annual yield would be over one million euros and is expected to increase substantially as the proposed tourism development strategy is implemented.

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