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Creating a Tourism Destination through Local Heritage: The Stakeholders’ Priorities in the Canavese Area (Northwest Italy)

Riccardo Beltramo
Giovanni Peira
1,2 and
Alessandro Bonadonna
Department of Management, University of Turin, Corso Unione Sovietica 218 bis, 10134 Turin, Italy
NatRisk–Interdepartmental Research Centre on Natural Risks in Mountain and Hilly Environments, University of Turin, Largo Paolo Braccini 2, Grugliasco, 10095 Turin, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2021, 10(3), 260;
Submission received: 30 November 2020 / Revised: 15 January 2021 / Accepted: 3 March 2021 / Published: 4 March 2021


A specific region, characterized by a significant natural and cultural heritage, is not necessarily a tourist destination. However, it can become so if there is active participation of local stakeholders oriented towards local development. In this context, this study focuses on a specific area, the Canavese (northwest Italy), which needs to find new regional development alternatives to the industrial sector. In particular, the research focused on the level of integration of local stakeholders and on their ability to identify common guidelines for tourist enhancement of the region. From an operational point of view, a survey of public and private stakeholders was carried out through a mixed-method approach divided into three stages: a questionnaire developed by a group of experts and individual interviews carried out by the Delphi method, presentation of the results, and identification of local priorities by the nominal group technique. Findings show the opportunity to act on specific elements to enhance local tourism offerings: outdoor nature and landscape, culture, and food and wine. Moreover, the stakeholders underlined the need for coordination among the parties involved to strengthen the local system. This activity should be supported by a single third party capable of managing the various phases of local development.

1. Introduction

Over the last few decades, land management as a subject of study has increased its weight and stimulated the contributions of various authors for the definition of more or less local solutions to better manage the natural, social and cultural heritage [1]. One of the main objectives of these studies is sustainable development, which, as a rule, is indicated as a global improvement in the quality of life that allows people to live in balance with their environments, i.e., terrestrial, air, and water, to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions for present and future generations [2,3,4]. However, land is profoundly shaped by the presence of human beings, and the result is a natural land visual that demonstrates a direct link with the social, environmental, and economic texture. Indeed, mountains, hills, moors, shores of the sea, rivers, and forests testify to the presence of man through the use of land, e.g., grazing, agriculture, or urbanization. It follows that the current environment is a built environment in which large amounts of energy and materials are used. This situation increases the anthropogenic pressure on Earth and reduces natural self-purification capabilities [5,6], negatively affecting human health and the natural environment [7]. Carelessness in management of land, landscape, and/or artefacts has led to an incoherent development that actually damages all living beings on Earth. At the same time, the presence of inherited landscapes in an original form and others created involuntarily over time raises further doubts on finding the best ways of managing such a precious resource. Therefore, a situation arises in which one wonders whether human intervention is essential or whether nature should “work” organically without any anthropogenic management [1,8], also in light of variations caused by climate change [9].
A specific orientation is the one providing for reduced anthropic intervention in management of the existing landscape, in order to enhance it with a view to improving the man–environment relationship [1,10,11,12,13]. This approach is in line with requests of some users of nature and landscapes who tend to seek an environment with a low anthropogenic impact for their leisure [4,14,15,16]. In this context, the stakeholders of a given region have a central role in planning regional development models that must consider the characteristics and specificities of the area of interest [10,11,12,13,17]. The stakeholders’ activities and the requests by “land users” indicate a path to enhance the “land heritage” through its touristic use that could contribute to the achievement of the triple bottom line of sustainable development.
In this context, this study focuses on a specific area, the Canavese (northwest Italy), where the landscape is the result of anthropic activities that have left their mark, over the last century, through urbanization of large areas that were rural before. In this area, there is an interest in developing the dynamics of tourism enhancement and promotion based on the need, on the one hand, to find new ways of regional development as an alternative to the industrial sector, and, on the other hand, to promote and enhance tourist offerings by networking the public and private systems. Specifically, the research focused on the level of integration of local stakeholders and their ability to identify common guidelines for the tourism enhancement of the region. Therefore, the final objective of the study is to verify whether the Canavese stakeholders can collaborate to find a common way to transform the Canavese area into a tourist destination with a new identity, setting the priority activities to be implemented.
From an operational point of view, a questionnaire was created for semi-structured individual interviews with selected stakeholders. The results were analysed and presented in a plenary meeting to feed discussion amongst stakeholders and identify the main actions to be implemented. The research highlighted the priority to act on three elements to enhance local tourism offerings—outdoors and nature, culture, and food and wine—and the need for coordination amongst the parties to strengthen the regional system.
In addition to this introductory section, the paper has the following structure: the second section is dedicated to a literature review; the third section highlights the materials and methods, providing more details on the area analysed and the survey methods applied; the fourth section presents the main findings, and the fifth discusses them; and the sixth and final section provides the main conclusions, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

2. Literature Review

Sustainable development is one of the current issues in the debate on land management to reduce part of the socio-economic inequalities that characterize society [2,18]. In the EU, the European Green Deal is aimed at making the economy more sustainable by transforming environmental challenges into opportunities through an efficient use of resources in terms of competitiveness [19,20]. Economic prosperity and the well-being of communities depend on the ability to manage territorial anthropogenic capital and natural capital, including ecosystems that provide goods and services. The development of adequate tools for proper management of the environment necessarily passes through the integration of ecological, economic, and socio-political elements within an interdisciplinary framework [21,22,23,24].
In this context, tourism is one of the main tools to obtain positive results in terms of sustainable development. Indeed, during the first 20 years of the second millennium, tourism went from a predominantly luxury activity to a mass activity, with a worldwide flow of tourists in 2019 exceeding 1.4 billion people [25]. This transition was made possible thanks to the rapid development of transport networks with gradual reduction of costs, as well as an increase in income and leisure by an increasingly large segment of the world’s population. This transformation has also changed the models of regional development, which tend to move towards new forms of activities dedicated to leisure. For an area in need of renewal, these activities must be focused on the specificities that the region can offer, ultimately creating new tourist offerings.

2.1. Tourist Destination, Heritage, and Stakeholders

A tourist destination is a physical space, with or without administrative boundaries, in which visitors can spend a certain amount of time using the related available services. A tourist destination can be defined as a travel place that the tourist wishes to visit thanks to the natural and/or artificial attractions it offers. Especially, an emotional appeal that binds visitors to the fame or beauty of the place must be combined with a series of services, such as structures and infrastructures useful for the stay [26]. A tourist destination can also be understood as an economic offer, proposed by one or more public and/or private entities rooted in a geographically, culturally, and historically unitary area, perceived by the demand as a unitary product, consisting of a package of tangible factors, e.g., agro-food products, craft products, and intangibles, such as services, information, culture, history, knowledge, or traditions [27]. Therefore, a tourist destination combines public and private stakeholders, as well as tangible and intangible elements, and can connect neighbouring regions to form larger destinations recognizable through a unitary image and identity, which also influence market competitiveness. The numerous geographical areas where natural, cultural, and/or social heritage exist and have been safeguarded by the UNESCO organization are examples [28,29,30,31,32].
In many tourist destinations, the need to innovate the tourism proposal is a priority, and related solutions can be oriented to change the region’s policies to have a perspective of social and environmental sustainability [33,34] and/or implement tools that can help in designing effective regional development strategies, such as in the cases of protected areas [35,36] and urban areas [37,38]. At the same time, a region characterized by a heritage that can be exploited for tourism purposes is not a tourist destination, but it can become one if there is active participation by local stakeholders oriented towards sustainable regional development [32,39,40,41]. This approach encourages the formation of a local identity and the self-identification of citizens with their region and local resources, for tourist destinations both new and consolidated.
Although the impact of mass tourism is still considered a desirable type of development in established tourist destinations, in local and small communities, where tourism is not the main economic activity or has reached a stage of stagnation or life cycle decline, public and/or private stakeholders are oriented to a different kind of tourism. In these cases, a series of actions for sustainable development of tourism can often be implemented cooperatively by several communities [11,12,17,32,42].

2.2. Local Development and Rural Tourism

Local development and tourist destinations must be related to the various types of tourism. Rural tourism represents a growing segment whose development opportunities derive from the ability to respond to some of the emerging trends in tourism demand. Indeed, they tend to reward forms of use that are less standardized and more attentive to the values of nature, culture, food and wine, and the rural lifestyle [43]. Rural communities see the development of tourism as an opportunity to diversify their local economy and revitalize areas that would otherwise no longer be competitive in the face of market dynamics and the evolution of agricultural policies (see, for example, the Leader in the European Union project [44,45]).
In recent years, food tourism in rural areas has experienced exponential growth. Indeed, it can lead to the preservation of rurality, the economic and social sustainability revitalizing the local area [46]. Local stakeholders consider food tourism in rural areas as a component of sustainable development [47] and award tourism value to local produce, e.g., cheese, considering that this product has some intrinsic values such as historical linkages to land and landscapes and the rural lifestyle [48].
Regardless of the motivation of the trip, tourists are increasingly oriented and require more and more moments related to gastronomy in rural areas in all its forms [49,50]. Sometimes, local food is essential to the success of rural tourism and appreciated as a means of promoting rural development through traditional cuisine [51].

2.3. Land Management and Local Development

Many destinations, in a process of diversification of local offerings, are investing more and more in cultural heritage. The travel motivations of “cultural tourists” are driven by a specific interest in visiting monuments, churches, museums, and historical and archaeological sites, but to these is added a group of different motivations pushing them to experience the charm of the regions from a naturalistic point of view, e.g., landscape, parks, and natural heritage, with the support of traditions, gastronomy, and other sociocultural elements that characterize an area [52,53,54]. Indeed, natural heritage, such as the landscape, is a specificity that is considered a tourist attraction, and that allows the enhancement of an area with the possibility of generating positive socio-economic effects [27,55,56,57,58,59].
The natural heritage is permeated by local culture and traditions and is also marked by explicit human interventions, e.g., vineyard landscapes [59,60]. It is often characterized by human transformations, to support agriculture and production of related products, which bring about changes but are still appreciated in the tourism sector by users and stakeholders [27,51,61,62]. These transformations also represent an element to support the tourist’s need for “experientiality” through participation in cultural tours, gastronomic experiences, or naturalistic or leisure activities [63,64,65,66,67,68]. Similarly, operators can improve the use of this natural–cultural heritage with the support of innovative means of transport, with less of an impact on the environment [69,70,71], which can replace public transport services that are not always efficient and effective in rural areas.
An improvement of the competitiveness of tourist destinations in the natural and cultural context could also be offered by the inclusion of sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List [32,72,73,74,75]. More generally, the development of a tourist destination model must take into account not only the competitiveness among destinations and the governance system of the region but also the ability to develop creative tourism that is transversal to any tourist experience [76]. According to Vieira et al. [77], “the improvement of competitiveness does not depend on the amount of funding, but on its strategic application based on the development phase of the destination”. Some studies [78,79] provide a series of indicators that can be adapted to the characteristics of any tourist destination and that allow for measuring the implementation of governance. Another study [80] underlines the importance of forging collaborations even amongst neighbouring regions, by identifying a participatory model of governance between the municipalities of Galicia and northern Portugal, to manage regional tourism strategies.
Regardless of the size of the regional area of reference, the governance of a tourist destination represents a complex activity due to the number of actors involved and the types of activities carried out and requires continuous adaptation [81,82]. One of the levers to achieve evident results is represented by the ability of the public and private sectors (each within their own perimeter of expertise) to implement collaboration policies and strategies in destination management and marketing activities [83,84]. The construction process of a tourist destination can lead to conflicts among stakeholders; therefore, in the planning phase, it is important to implement tools to manage any critical issues [85,86]. Consequently, a tourist destination is such not only when it is recognized by visitors (actual and potential) but also when it is considered as a destination by the same public and private operators who are part of the governance and development system of the region [27,87].
A location, indeed, can become a tourist destination only through interaction with the market, and, like any product or service, it has its own life cycle [88]. Its identification and recognition also vary in relation to the period of time in which it is present on the tourism and leisure market [89]. In this sense, the governance of the region can lead this path through the identification of guidelines and implementation of tools and initiatives to stimulate the potential market, e.g., social media and word of mouth (WOM) [90,91,92,93], as well as by control systems to verify the results and monitor the social and environmental impact of tourism on the region [51,94,95].

3. Materials and Methods

3.1. Study Area

Canavese is located in the north-eastern part of the Metropolitan City of Turin and is a historic region of Piedmont between the Aosta Valley and the Po Valley [96]. The area is largely made up of moraine hills, with a flat area to the south and a mountainous area on the border between Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta. Canavese is a varied region not only in its naturalistic heritage but also on a historical-cultural level. The most important city is Ivrea. Other centres of economic importance are Borgofranco d’Ivrea, Castellamonte, Caluso, Ciriè, Cuorgnè, Rivarolo Canavese, and Strambino. The most flourishing economic sectors are industry and agriculture, and, in recent years, tourism has been slowly growing [97]. The region’s surface is equal to 2878.1 km2 (42% of the Metropolitan City of Turin); there are 162 municipal administrations (52% of the Metropolitan City of Turin) and 373,974 inhabitants (16% of the Metropolitan City of Turin). Analysing some socio-demographic indicators of Canavese, compared to the national average, the old-age index is slightly higher, the birth rate is lower, and the death rate is higher. The population density is very low, and the average number of members per family is in line with the national average, while in recent years there has been a strong migratory inflow of foreigners, who have settled in the various Canavese municipalities. The data relating to the high age of the population and the low density must be read bearing in mind that part of the region is mountainous, with the presence of small municipalities.
Industry in Canavese is currently in a better position than Italy taken as a whole, but it still appears weak compared to the other areas of the rest of the Metropolitan City of Turin. The types of companies present in the region are 64.9% sole proprietorships, 21.1% partnerships, 12% joint-stock companies, and 3% other forms. Among the corporations, 23% are commercial, 18.6% construction, 17.3% deal with business services, 13.1% are agricultural, and 11.8% are in the industrial sector, with the remaining 16.2% comprising other services. More generally, the Canavese area is historically known for the concept of community introduced by the entrepreneur-philanthropist Adriano Olivetti [98], who placed his company as the coordinating body of the Canavese industry capable of influencing local economic and social policies, especially at the welfare level. Today, however, the absence of an authoritative figure such as Olivetti has generated a void that manifests itself in the scarce strategic alliances amongst the various production entities, with a small manufacturing presence characterized by high regional dispersion [99,100]. Indeed, the Olivetti crisis has generated significant demographic repercussions. According to Istat data, in Ivrea and in the neighbouring municipalities, there was an increase in population until 1971, coinciding with the expansion phase of the company, and then, with the crisis, there was a progressive decrease in inhabitants, causing a loss of attractiveness of the region.
In this context, the research area was defined as one characterized by a common cultural, social, productive, and tourist matrix. The selected criteria led to the exclusion of the Lanzo Valleys, occasionally associated with the Canavese but different in culture and tourist vocation, being a well-known mountain holiday resort and an established tourist destination. This area was also excluded on the basis of tourist flows and the average length of stay, which is higher than the average profile of Canavese tourists. In Figure 1, the study area is geographically located with the detail of the mountain (dark grey) and hilly or plain (light grey) municipalities.

3.2. Selection of Stakeholders

The sample of stakeholders to be involved in the survey was selected on the basis of criteria identified in the literature, taking into account some sociocultural specificities of the area. In particular, the stakeholders were divided into two macro-groups, i.e., primary and secondary. The former was identified as the fundamental subjects for the survival of the system, with a high level of interdependence between them and the focal entity (which, in this study, is the tourist destination). The latter contains the elements that influence the activity of the focal entity and at the same time are influenced by it, but the bond that unites them is not essential for the survival of the business. Subsequently, the secondary stakeholders were divided according to the degree of importance and influence towards the primary stakeholders [101,102,103,104,105]. Finally, stakeholder competence requirements were considered, i.e., experience and knowledge on the topics of this study, availability of time and interest to participate, communication skills, and efficiency [106,107]. This model was chosen for its flexibility in application and was tailored to the tourism context and the objective of common interest of the study, i.e., the creation of a new identity of the tourist destination. The identification of the protagonists of the Canavese regional dynamics required some additional considerations due to the nature of the subject. These considerations can be summarized as follows. A tourist destination is a context that involves a large number of stakeholders, in which the offerings for tourists are the result of a number of relationships that develop amongst interdependent subjects. Furthermore, the interaction of stakeholders, unlike the model applied to the business context, which focuses solely on the links between the various players and the focal entity, must also take into account the relationships amongst the various stakeholders, not detected by the original theory. This information is very important for a destination community: in these relationships, the tourist offer appears as the result of the collaboration of multiple public and private stakeholders. Finally, the reciprocity of ties is considered: in the case of Canavese, a network of spontaneous and non-formalized relationships is established.
On the basis of these criteria, a desk analysis activity and a subsequent comparison with the local public bodies were carried out and the stakeholders to be involved in the survey were identified. With reference to the primary stakeholders, given the large number of companies present in the area, the trade associations (accommodation facilities and HORECA, tourism companies, agro-food producers, and operators), tourist associations (four operating exclusively in the region, one operating throughout the Provincia di Torino), a tour operator (the only one to provide services in the area), and a tourist attraction (with the largest tourist flow in the area) were involved in order to summarize the needs of the local tourism industry. As secondary stakeholders, the selection was oriented towards identifying the most important subjects; in the case of the study area, these are the municipalities, the main promoters of tourism initiatives. The selection process identified three municipalities in the area considering tourist flows and the ability to organize events as selection criteria.
The sample selection process resulted in 15 potential survey participants (Table 1), all of whom were solicited for participation and all of whom accepted the proposal.

3.3. Methodology

Tourism in the area defined for the study was treated as a case study. To this end, the local stakeholders were involved in a survey for the definition of a common strategy for the enhancement of the Canavese area. In particular, the research focused on the objectives and specificities of the tourist destination, to highlight any discrepancies and stimulate possible affinities and shared ideas [108,109,110] and therefore identify a common strategy for tourism development of the area.
To achieve this, the research was structured in three stages. In the first, the questionnaire was created, based on a careful and complete analysis aimed at identifying the specificities of the region as a function of possible tourist development. In the second phase, individual interviews were carried out to collect information from the stakeholders. The third envisaged a meeting between all the selected stakeholders structured in two moments: presentation of the results from the second phase, and discussion of the results and sharing of ideas for a common project (Table 2).
In the first phase, the questionnaire was designed to interview a panel of 15 selected stakeholders to collect the necessary information. A first version of the questionnaire was created and evaluated by a group of experts to detect any structural weaknesses. The group comprised three university researchers—experts in regional development, ecosystem management, and tourism; and two tour operators—experts in regional tourism enhancement. The final questionnaire, based on their observations, was divided into three parts. The first was dedicated to knowledge of the tourist specificities of the Canavese, i.e., main characteristics, main tourist attractions, and role of Ivrea as its “tourist capital”. The second part was structured to investigate and analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) of Canavese perceived by the interviewees. The third part investigated priorities for tourist development considering the role of the geographical position in the European context and the tangible and intangible heritage of the Canavese.
The second phase was carried out through individual stakeholder interviews using the Delphi method, which can be more efficient in generating solutions than other methods [111,112,113]. This method has been productively used in the tourism and hospitality sectors [114,115,116,117,118,119]. On the one hand, the method allows the researcher to more efficiently generate an in-depth analysis on the interaction between regional development and the tourist destination, and on the other hand, to collect information by avoiding interviewee hesitations and distrust that usually arise in group meetings and interviews. This study was carried out through semi-structured individual interviews following the questionnaire [120]. Stakeholders were interviewed [121] during the summer of 2019. Interviewees were contacted to set a date and time for the interview, and each interview lasted 45–75 min. The collected information was distributed to all authors, who analysed it separately so as not to influence each other [122]. Subsequently, the authors discussed the results and identified the main findings to be proposed in the third phase.
Based on the interview results, the nominal group technique was selected for the third phase, in line with other studies [123,124,125,126,127,128]. This technique aims to build consensus among the different stakeholders belonging to a group [123,125] as it stimulates active participation and allows stakeholders to overcome the criticalities related to group decision making [100]. Here, it was structured in two parts, both conducted by a moderator: The first was aimed at generating ideas from each stakeholder on the main issues that emerged during the individual interviews. In the second, the ideas that emerged in the first part were shared among the stakeholders and, therefore, the priority activities for the collective good were identified [129,130,131]. All stakeholders actively participated and identified the priorities from a tourist’s point of view. This stage was carried out at the beginning of February 2020 and lasted for 2.5 h.

4. Results

4.1. Regional Tourist Specificities

Individual interviews highlighted a well-defined picture of tourism in the Canavese area. The main activities are outdoor activities, particularly appreciated by foreign tourists, mainly French, Swiss, and German; historical-cultural visits, e.g., the Masino and Aglié castles and Sacro Monte di Belmonte; and initiatives in the food and wine sector, especially appreciated by Italian tourists. However, these activities are introduced in tourist offers that provide for overnight stays in other areas of Piedmont, mainly Langhe, the Maggiore and Orta lakes, and Valle d’Aosta, limiting Canavese to a transit area or day trip.
The respondents, based on their own experience, underlined that Canavese is little or not at all known and perceived as a “tourist destination”, compared to well-known tourist attractions in the area that are not connected to the Canavese area, e.g., the Gran Paradiso National Park, the Ivrea Carnival, the Aglié and Masino castles, and the Via Francigena.
With reference to the role of Ivrea as a tourist hub in the Canavese area, the stakeholders believe that this main city should become the starting point for making local realities known nationally and internationally. However, there are numerous current limitations. Interviewees reported the need to improve the quality of current tourist offerings, in terms of reception, e.g., the acceptance of groups in confectionery shops and historic places, holiday hours for commercial establishments, and usability, such as better access to the natural heritage, to places of the industrial past (UNESCO sites), and to tourist and cultural resources, which would involve improving related services, e.g., providing well-marked routes and paths, efficient means of transport, and increased opening hours.
According to the Canavese mentality, people should be oriented towards imagining Ivrea as a tourist or leisure destination. Currently, the city comes alive in a few periods of the year, such as the Historic Carnival in February, the Great Invasion in June, and the patronal fair of San Savino in July. These events are inadequate for making a critical mass with the rest of the Canavese. However, some respondents (five out of 15) underlined that the transformation of Ivrea into a tourist hub is not a priority since the region is vast, and any increase in tourist flows to Ivrea may not constitute a direct advantage in peripheral areas. Interviewees agreed on the need for general coordination to make the city a real tourist hub and not “an island in the middle of Canavese” so that it can become an attraction but not a centralizer. Nevertheless, this transformation should be entrusted to professionals in the sector.
The most relevant aspects that emerged from the responses (14 out of 15) in relation to area UNESCO Heritage sites concerned the high potential represented by this heritage, even if, to date, promotional activity and tourist flows are residual. Furthermore, in relation to the sites linked to Olivetti, 12 respondents underlined a reduced usability of the places included in the UNESCO site, the lack of organic and coordinated proposals and methods of visits, and the lack of a museum dedicated to specific historical Olivetti aspects that led to UNESCO recognition. Finally, the tour operator highlighted that the problems further limit the possibility of organizing regular tours.

4.2. SWOT Analysis

Table 3 shows the strengths and weaknesses of Canavese (descending order by frequency).
In its strengths, the concept of tourist attraction emerges strongly. Based on the data, the most frequent answers include the reference to nature and landscape (15 out of 15), making explicit reference to the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Morainic Amphitheater of Ivrea, as well as to amateur and sporting outdoor activities. This sensitivity towards nature and landscape is also dictated by the consolidated flow of tourists from northern Europe (France, Switzerland, and Germany), who choose Canavese for environmentally friendly tourism in a non-congested area. The second strong point is the food and wine heritage (14 out of 15), which is recognized as the main motivation for Italian tourists and represents the main draw for tourists. Respondents also highlighted the importance of the historical-artistic heritage (13 out of 15), making explicit reference to sites such as the Agliè and Masino castles. The “Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century” UNESCO site was highlighted by a small number of stakeholders (four out of 15), which indicates a reduced knowledge of the attraction even among regional stakeholders.
Respondents also indicated some aspects that they consider to be priorities for Canavese tourism development. These included the following: design promotion and communication initiatives to make the region and/or its existence known (15 out of 15); create collaboration networks between public and private entities (13 out of 15); increase the quality of tourist accommodation and usability (13 out of 15); implement distinctive tourist proposals (10 out of 15); strengthen the path network and outdoor itineraries (9 out of 15); strengthen public services and the training of tour operators (8 out of 15); activate incentive tools for businesses (8 out of 15); increase the role of Ivrea as a tourist hub (7 out of 15); organize important tourist events (5 out of 15); and safeguard the region (5 out of 15).
With reference to the weaknesses, all stakeholders agreed in identifying the inability to create effective collaboration networks in the area (15 out of 15). Internal rivalry and a reduced spirit towards taking initiative and promoting collaboration among stakeholders (public and private) negatively affect the development of tourist and leisure activities; moreover, the lack of a coordinating body capable of creating synergy between the numerous individual entrepreneurial initiatives seems to be a further limitation. This presents a multifaceted picture, with areas characterized by non-homogeneous specificities where tourism is not yet perceived as a source of positive economic effects. This approach therefore manifests itself in structural and infrastructural deficiencies, such as the reduced diffusion of public services (11 out of 15), accommodation and/or catering facilities (10 out of 15), and adequately indicated and traced paths (4 out of 15).
Table 4 shows the opportunities and threats for Canavese (descending order by frequency).
Respondents underlined that the trend of tourist flows and, more generally, the growth trend of the tourism sector, also at an international level, are good auspices for an enhancement of the Canavese and represent an opportunity for regional production and service activities (13 out of 15). Furthermore, the growing interest in sustainable tourism, outdoor activities, and slow tourism highlights a further opportunity for future services (10 out of 15). The geographical position also is seen as an opportunity to intercept tourist flows directed at other better known and renowned areas, such as the Aosta Valley (9 out of 15). Another opportunity is represented by WOM of foreign tourists satisfied with the area who, returning home, recommend Canavese to their compatriots as a scarcely known tourist destination outside mass tourism routes (8 out of 15). At the same time, however, respondents recognized that the proximity of widely popular areas, such as the Aosta Valley, represents a limit to possible area expansion (15 out of 15). Their more effective promotion and greater visibility (13 out of 15) tend to depress the intrinsic tourist value of the Canavese area.

4.3. Priorities Identification

The discussion of the results in the study’s third phase then led to the definition of some priority proposals to develop useful tools for Canavese tourism. The first proposal, according to priority, is to develop organic tourist offerings oriented at three main themes: outdoor and route, culture, and food and wine.
Sustainable tourism, through outdoor activities, hiking, and paths, seems to be the closest to the variation type of tourism the area has to offer. Specifically, the region is able to offer a consolidated system of facilities for sports and outdoors, taking advantage in information and promotional terms of the more established significant elements, such as the Canoe Stadium at Ivrea, the Gran Paradiso National Park, the Via Francigena, some valleys of the region, the Morainic Amphitheater of Ivrea, and the Ring of the Five Lakes of Ivrea. New proposals could be added to these well-known attractions, such as creating outdoor routes along the Canale di Caluso.
The tourist market pays ever greater attention to issues related to green and responsible tourism, respectful of local communities and the environment in which the destination exists, and to possibilities of discovering and experiencing the region as slow tourism. In fact, more and more visitors are looking forward to gathering experiences along the journey.
The cultural factor is the other element to which stakeholders directed their interest. Excluding Castello di Agliè (a UNESCO site) and Castello di Masino (an FAI site, which is a foundation for the protection and enhancement of the Italian historical and artistic heritage), the other castles and historic residences of Canavese should be put online to enhance this important historical artistic heritage. The city of Ivrea, thanks to the national and international fame of its historic carnival and the UNESCO recognition as an “industrial city of the 20th century”, should turn into a tourist hub of the area. Stakeholders suggested leveraging the UNESCO site through the creation of a museum and/or sites dedicated to industrial archaeology that can be easily used by tourists.
The third theme is food and wine. The Canavese wine heritage is especially appreciated by Italian tourists thanks to the promotion strategies implemented by the Turin Royal Wine Route, the Carema and Erbaluce Protection Consortiums, and the Canavese Valleys Tourist Operators Consortium. According to the stakeholders, further promotional initiatives should be launched to enhance the Canavese gastronomic heritage, such as miassa, salignun, salampatata, and torcetto.
To support the development of these three priority themes, the stakeholders highlighted the need to take into consideration the potential of technology and digitization. While on the one hand an increasing online presence of tourist destinations is required, so that they can be easily identified and interpreted by potential (in particular) and actual tourists, on the other hand, new technologies offer novel experiential possibilities, e.g., augmented reality and virtual reality, use of big data, and gamification. These solutions enable operators to reach (potential) tourists directly and be discovered by them, in an increasingly competitive market, constantly looking for new destinations, alternative and unique experiences, and regularly updated information. Digital tools can also provide important support to existing tourists who need to know how to get around, what to visit and where to find typical products. Digital tools consistently amplify the WOM phenomenon, which plays a primary role in the choice of holiday destinations, activities, and experiences to be lived. Finally, digital is a useful tool for maintaining relationships with customers and visitors, even after the visit itself, to maximize the chances of their future return.
In conclusion, stakeholders underlined that these priorities should be pursued through coordination by a single body capable of supporting the entire region in the development phase of the various guidelines.

5. Discussion

Managing a region for tourism is a challenge in many areas of the world. Various systems have been used for this purpose, such as adaptive co-management, which allows continuous learning in the relationship between stakeholders and the environment [83], or collaborative governance, which provides for an in-depth comparison among stakeholders [84]. These systems are based on the development of stakeholder networks in which fundamental elements, such as personal relationships, trust, and reciprocity, are expressed, which have as their goal a collective empathy aimed at the positive development of the community. Several authors [82,83,84] have highlighted how these initiatives are only partially effective in terms of stakeholder involvement and collaboration, reducing the opportunities for sustainable development of the area involved.
In this context, the present study presents a first phase of collaboration among selected Canavese stakeholders to define a feasible orientation supporting the development of the area. Findings showed that the priorities identified by the stakeholders are interdependent. The discovery of the region, the promotion of “Destination Canavese”, the strengthening of existing markets and entry into new ones, and the increase in average stay in the region are all elements that depend on the ability to create a system for tourist offerings based on collaboration and coordination [83,84].
The enhancement of the natural heritage is a priority on which all stakeholders agree, also in line with other studies [27,56,57,58]. Services related to outdoors, hiking, and leisure in nature, which include in particular the good practices already developed in the Gran Paradiso National Park, the Via Francigena, and the Turin Royal Wine Route, are essential elements for increasing the attractiveness of the area and therefore expanding the existing tourist market [66,67]. A tourist destination oriented to the use of natural heritage was identified, indeed, as the main priority, and will depend on an assessment of tourists’ needs [64]. In this context, examples of outdoor activities as a tool for regional development and wealth creation are diverse [65] and highlight the importance of coherently managing nature and its heritage [63], perhaps using new means of transport [69,70,71].
The many historical cultural attractions present in the area are only partly exploited. The Canavese UNESCO sites have unexpressed potential, according to international testimonies [72,73,74].
Food and wine, recognized by all stakeholders as a consolidated attraction, is a useful tool to complete the tourist offer of the region [49,50]. If, on the one hand, outdoor activities and historical cultural sites require a gastronomic offer to complete a possible tourist package, it is equally true that a tourist visit for food and wine purposes can in turn be completed by different activities, such as a visit to a museum or a hike in a natural park [27,28,29]. Moreover, gastronomy tourism can be a useful tool to preserve rurality and increase sustainable development of the region, revitalizing depressed and disadvantaged areas [46,47]. At the same time, food and wine production can shape the land by enhancing the landscape and can support the cultural heritage by combining rural life with the specificities of the area [43,48,59,60].
In support of these priority activities, the digitization of tourism proposals, e.g., augmented reality, and the support of e-WOM tools for their communication would be desirable. In fact, these tools should allow the achievement of a twofold objective: an increase in the recognition of the Canavese area (and its attractors) as a tourist destination [93], and a widening of the range of origin of visitors, as is happening in other parts of the world [25,26].
Synthetically, involved stakeholders appreciated the study method, and their participation was active and positive, identifying several activities to implement. At the same time, they evidenced a lack of ability in defining shared guidelines to increase the local value. Indeed, in light of what emerged from the study, a single stakeholder should be identified capable of guiding the destination management and governance process, aimed at creating a coordinated tourism offer and promotion system inclusive of the different entrepreneurial and regional realities. This is a complicated activity and is certainly made difficult by the strong heterogeneity of the Canavese and a cultural background that leads the local actors to be passive in terms of involvement, coordination, and creation of local networks. Areas in which stakeholders are used to acting as a system have a faster and more effective reaction capacity (resilience) than those in which individuals act in an uncoordinated way [81,82,83,84]. At the regional level, therefore, it follows that coordination, will, and the ability to create a system are useful tools, even for emergency conditions, since cohesion will limit the risk.

6. Conclusions, Limitations, and Future Research

In this study, the interviewees demonstrated that they want to collaborate to find a solution or several solutions to develop tourism in their region. This type of declared collaboration is also a good omen for the current period, characterized by the Covid-19 pandemic.
These results show the importance of the active involvement of local stakeholders. The study allowed the sharing of ideas and the identification of priority activities for the development of Canavese as a tourist destination and highlighted the awareness of local actors in defining an essential need, i.e., the identification of an executive third party able to organize and organically coordinate activities for the development of the region.
The research provided theoretical implications, underlining the effectiveness of a mixed method of qualitative investigation to stimulate collaboration between public and private local stakeholders, and also highlighted practical implications, allowing local actors to identify a series of shared, useful activities to stimulate the creation of a new identity for Canavese as a tourist destination.
Although the results are comforting, both in terms of the highlighted priorities and willingness to collaborate among stakeholders, the development of a tourist destination is a much broader process than shown in this study. The necessary activities are varied and require time and financial support to achieve the final goal. This aspect represents the main limitation of the research that we would like to reduce through the realization of future in-depth studies by extending the survey to all stakeholders of the Canavese area and to the analysis of the demand from potential tourists.

Author Contributions

All authors contributed equally to this paper. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.


The authors thank Corrado Scapino for his support to implement the research in Canavese area.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Study area. Canavese is located in the Piedmont region, northwest Italy.
Figure 1. Study area. Canavese is located in the Piedmont region, northwest Italy.
Land 10 00260 g001
Table 1. Stakeholders involved in the study.
Table 1. Stakeholders involved in the study.
PrimaryTrade associations5
Tourist associations5
Tour operator1
Tourist attraction1
Total 15
Table 2. Stages of the qualitative analysis involving the stakeholders.
Table 2. Stages of the qualitative analysis involving the stakeholders.
StagesMethods Scope
First stageQuestionnaire design Identification of Canavese specificities for semi-structured interviews
Second stageDelphi method Individual interviews to define opinions on Canavese tourism development
Third stageNominal group techniqueFirst stepPresentation of interview results
Second stepIdentification of common priorities
Table 3. Strengths and weaknesses of tourism in Canavese.
Table 3. Strengths and weaknesses of tourism in Canavese.
Strengths Weaknesses
1Nature landscape and biodiversity1Internal competitiveness
Reduced spirit of initiative
Reduced collaboration among public and private stakeholders
Lack of a coordinating body
2Food and wine2Communication, promotion, and enhancement of the region
3Culture, traditions, and authenticity3Public transport shortage
4Sports and outdoor activities4Lack of accommodation and/or restaurants
5Historical-artistic resources5Lack of a unique identity
6Castles and historic houses6Difficulty in using the places of tourist interest
7Strategic position7Lack of adequately indicated and traced paths
8Virgin region from a tourist point of view
9Ivrea and Olivetti UNESCO site
Table 4. Opportunities and threats for tourism in the Canavese area.
Table 4. Opportunities and threats for tourism in the Canavese area.
Opportunities Threats
1Positive trend of the tourism sector at international, national, and regional level1Presence of more known and established neighbouring areas from a tourist point of view
2Growing interest in issues related to sustainable tourism, outdoor, and slow tourism2Tourist promotion of the neighbouring areas
3Strategic position to intercept tourist flows directed at other geographical areas by offering a diversified service3Reduced recognition of the Canavese by potential tourists
4WOM among foreign visitors
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Beltramo, R.; Peira, G.; Bonadonna, A. Creating a Tourism Destination through Local Heritage: The Stakeholders’ Priorities in the Canavese Area (Northwest Italy). Land 2021, 10, 260.

AMA Style

Beltramo R, Peira G, Bonadonna A. Creating a Tourism Destination through Local Heritage: The Stakeholders’ Priorities in the Canavese Area (Northwest Italy). Land. 2021; 10(3):260.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Beltramo, Riccardo, Giovanni Peira, and Alessandro Bonadonna. 2021. "Creating a Tourism Destination through Local Heritage: The Stakeholders’ Priorities in the Canavese Area (Northwest Italy)" Land 10, no. 3: 260.

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