Programme

The Starlight Programme Alqueva Dark Sky® Reserve started last year in June and the partnership requested the certification during October. The Programme has being developed according the Agenda for a Sustainable and Competitive European Tourism and in the result of that follows the principles of sustainability.

 

This programme is developed in partnership involving a non-profit association, the regional government, the regional authority for tourism and the public enterprise responsible for the management of the dam that originated the lake Alqueva. This partnership signed a protocol to implement the Programme.

 

The non-profit association, Alentejo Network of Village Tourism | Genuineland, coordinates the European Network of Village Tourism | Genuineland, project awarded in 2007 with the Ulysses Award given by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). His team has large experience in the development of networks, creation and management of partnerships, in destination management, development of new products, marketing strategies and sustainable development. This association assumes the coordination of the Programme.

 

The regional authority for tourism, Tourism Lands of the Great Lake Alqueva (TGLA), has the responsibility of the tourism management of the area of Alqueva where the Reserve is being implemented.

 

The regional government, Alentejo Regional Commission of Coordination and Development (CCDRA), brings to the partnership its large experience in regional planning and the development of indicators of sustainability.

 

The public enterprise, EDIA, SA, contributes with its experience in the management of the infra-structures of Alqueva area, the knowledge in regional development and with the integration of is property Parque de Noudar in the project.

 

Apart this agreement it was signed another agreement with the Portuguese Association of Astronomers Amateurs regarding the support of implementing the measurements and the programme of training.

 

The Alqueva Dark Sky® Reserve integrates around 3.000 sq. spread by six municipalities: Alandroal, Barrancos, Moura, Mourão, Portel e Reguengos de Monsaraz.

 

Mission

The creation of a destination based in the principles of tourism sustainable development with its main focus in the preservation of the night sky.

 

Objectives

With the development of the Alqueva Dark Sky® Reserve the partnership has as the main objective the creation of a Destination Management System.

 

To obtain this objective the programme has to seek the following sub-objectives:

  1. The decrease of light pollution,

  2. Creation of new products linked with the night – Alqueva Dark Sky® Route and the Alqueva Starlight Route,

  3. The development of territorial marketing with the engagement of the residents and the local and regional stakeholders,

  4. The engagement of the scientific community.

 

Strategy

The Programme is being developed in cooperation with different stakeholders, public and private organizations linked with tourism, other organizations and with the scientific community.

 

The programme has a Management Committee which integrates the partnership and a working group where the involvement of the related stakeholders was envisaged within the starting moment.

 

The partnership, under the coordination of the Alentejo Network of Village Tourism, manages the programme, develops its activities and all related to monitoring. The working group supports closely this work by participating in the process, suggestion of actions and developing some. From the working group there are organizations that by his nature or competencies are more involved in the development of the programme. In this case are included the six municipalities of the Alqueva Dark Sky® Reserve and the Portuguese Association of Astronomers Amateurs (APAA). The municipalities have an enormous responsibility in the process of decreasing the light pollution as the cause of it is mainly the public lightning. The APAA has the knowledge about the theme and because of that has the responsibility for issues like training and monitoring the quality of the sky with all related criteria.

 

The involvement of the private stakeholders is a key issue, especially the ones related with the important change of the land use in near future. The projects planned for this territory will have impacts in the land use and they can also be a polluters factor in which concerns the sky. The association that integrates all the promoters of tourism projects is highly involved in the project with the objective of contributing for its success by implementing external lightening according the regulations for the Programmes Starlight and by creating offers specialized in this field. One of the biggest investors in that area is already planning an observatory for astronomy. He is an enthusiastic of the sky.

 

To guarantee the quality of the Destination Starlight the partnership as the goal of turning each provider of tourism services integrated in the Routes an Astronomer Amateur. If we will be able to instill the interest for astronomy they will do the job with pleasure, with passion.

 

Other rules will be specified to be fulfilled by persons using the observing sites at Alqueva Dark Sky® Reserve. Rules like the ones we can find here:

These rules are intended to help maintain access and use of the Astronomy Observing Sites for as many members and their guests as possible, while preserving the conditions that have brought us out to enjoy the sky. Following these rules will permit everyone to pursue the study and enjoyment of astronomy to the fullest satisfaction.

If you are new to the site, or it has been a while since you have been to a Star Party, please take a few minutes to review these basic rules. Please don't hesitate to ask questions if anything is unclear.

  1. Do Not Litter! Everyone shall be responsible for his or her litter. If you bring it in, take it with you when you leave. Access to the observing site depends upon each member complying with this rule.

  2. No Open Fires Permitted.

  3. Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages is prohibited.

  4. No White Lights after Dark! Use dim red lights after sundown. Use only the minimum light necessary for safety. If you must use lights, please ask first, to avoid spoiling someone's night vision or astrophoto. Shield or turn off automatic car door or trunk lights (Pull the fuses if necessary.)

  5. Park Based on your Observing Plan. Park facing towards the exit, to avoid having to backup using backup lights. If you planning to leave early, park close to the exit. If you do not bring a telescope, park away from observers and walk over. Five MPH is the maximum speed while on observing field to keep dust to a minimum. Also be careful that your vehicle does not block the view of a nearby observer.

  6. Remember, your vehicle back-up lights are bright white. A good idea is to back your vehicle in at the start of the evening so that when you leave, you can pull straight out rather than having to back up.

  7. Plan Your Departure. Please announce in advance (to save night vision and astro-photographer's tempers), and have someone lead your vehicle out with a flashlight. Use Parking Lights Only – No Headlights, Please!

  8. Members are Responsible for their Guests. All non-members are considered "Invited Guests,'' and must observe the rules.

  9. Bring Observers Only. Very small children and pets generally do not enjoy star parties, and can be annoying to others. Please leave them at home if possible.

  10. Keep Noise to a Minimum. Please, no loud radios, tape players, CB, CDs, horns, yelling, etc.

  11. Never be the Next to the Last to Leave. Don't leave someone alone at the observing site without first checking with them. Dead car batteries, vandals...

  12. The last two people should sweep the area with their flashlights to see if anyone accidentally dropped something important. If you find anything left behind, contact the club President the next day and then bring the item with you to the next meeting to be re-united with its owner.”

 

This programme is oriented to the demand as it’s important to develop a product that responds to the expectations of the target market. In this context it was started last June 2011 a Research Programme coordinated by the Main Researcher of the Genuineland to analyze the profile of the tourist for this market and the way to reach this market. The first part is already being conducted with the support of the public national institute for tourism, Turismo de Portugal, the National Association of Astronomers Amateurs (APAA) and several experts in tourism and astrophysics.

 

A survey is already being conducted through the internet to evaluate the profile of the tourist and also a wider process of consultation of the several associations related with the astronomers amateurs. The process of consultation started in Portugal, in Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland, and United States of America. The survey will be conducted in two steps. The first step consists in the spread of a questionnaire through the internet to obtain data for the constraints and choices. Then the second step consists in the spread of a second and more complete questionnaire to be implemented though the internet and presence.

 

Other mechanism of demand consultation is being implemented by the adherents of the Alqueva Starlight and Dark Sky® Route. The process of integration in this Route is regulated and just the tourism services able to fulfill the requirements can be part of it. The elaborated regulation had into consideration the needs of this market, like for example late entrance in the lodging, late breakfast, or late check-out. The tourism services will be able soon to make available a questionnaire for its clients with questions about the Alqueva Starlight and Dark Sky® Route in particular and in general about the performance of the destination Alqueva.

 

The implementation of a Destination Management System implies an integrated view of the destination and that means everything inside the territory in included in the system.