Sarah Marroni Minasi[1]

Virginia Elisabeta Etges[2]

Everton Simon[3]


Commonly, the terms space and territory are confused for each other by colloquial language, which contributes to the raise of the ambiguities that surround these concepts. In this sense, it is fundamental to comprehend clearly the distinctions between space and territory. As is put by Raffestin (1993, p. 144), “the space is anterior, preexistent to any action”. Space is, in a certain way, ‘given’ as it was an input. Cruz (2000, p. 18) discusses the concept of territory and reads it in the spectrum of tourism.

Territory corresponds to functional fractions (SANTOS, 1997) of space. It corresponds to the functionalized space, being appropriated by specific social actors (which attribute to it specific functions), in a given historic moment. Hence, while referring to spaces appropriated by tourism, there is, to portions of space functionalized by tourism, we utilize the concept of touristic territory, adopted by Knafou (1996).

Tourism is an activity dependent and consumer of territory, thus influencing its transformation, requiring an increasing rationality due to the competiveness of touristic products, today in a global scale. Rationality and competitiveness in the perspective of the creation of competitive advantage and not a perverse competitiveness, in this way highlighting the particularities present in each touristic territory. In this context, planning regarding territory appears as a condition for the success of sectorial plans and policies aiming for valuation of particularities (CRUZ, 2000).

However, the absence of the territorial dimension surrounds a great portion of the history of Brazilian public policies. Theis and Galvão (2012, p. 55) argue that “public policies can be more effective if its spatial dimension is brought to the first plan. And if notions of space, territory and region have their meaning properly explicited”.

Tourism has as a main characteristic the appropriation of territories and its development depends on the current organization and relations. Because of that, the performance of tourism in indirectly related to the country urban and regional public policies, since those regard the organization of the territory.

The history of the actions of public power in Brazil, regarding tourism, show, however, that it has ignored, systematically, the complex group of relations in which the activity is inserted. The absence of concatenation between tourism policies and urban and regional policies is a clear example of the strict vision that surrounds the construction of both (CRUZ, 2000, p. 35-6).

By the widening and integration of the action of public power, incorporating the territorial dimension, it is possible to aim for a development with justice and equality. For Etges (2005), development, in a territorial perspective, takes in perspective territory as a whole, comprehends its dynamics and diversity and, then, proposes strategies to promote a regional sustainable development. Similarly, Cruz (2000) alerts that the lack of territorial dimension in sectorial policies and in planning, in a general way, eliminates any possibility to the elaboration of well-succeeded plans and policies.

Regarding tourism, nowadays a strong tendency of development arises in a regional sphere. This emerges as a response to globalization and as a way to configure a touristic offer with high power of attractiveness. Situations in which municipalities don’t have potential to sustain the touristic activity by themselves but by doing it in a regional way makes it a viable alternative.


The constant presence of a simplifying vision in theoretical analysis and discussions transformed the notions of space, territory and region in synonyms. However, to explicit properly their meanings is essential, since the terms territory and region are key in order to formulate and develop public policies that have as goal any sort of intervention in the territory.

Santos (2002, p. 10) affirms that

territory isn’t just a group of natural systems and of systems constituted by juxtaposed things. Territory has to be understood as used territory, not the territory itself. Territory used is the ground added the identity. Hence, identity represents the feeling of belonging, of identification with the space where life occurs.

The production and territory valuation supposes the understanding of the relations that make their functioning dynamic, since territory is a product and is conditioned by social relations. To Raffestin (1993, p. 144) “evidently the territory supports itself in space, but isn’t space. It is a production, through space”.

Territory is characterized as space of living (SANTOS, 2002), therefore, is deducted the idea of something in constant transformation, without forgetting traces of the past, present values and the impact of future actions. The socio-spatial formation reveals the way territory is used by society (SILVEIRA, 2010, p. 76), territories are socially constructed and deconstructed. Thus, Etges (2001) says that territory must be seen as something in process, a content-form, a trace of the union between the past and the immediate future. It has to be seen as a force field, a place of exercise, of contradictions between the vertical and the horizontal, State and markets, economic use and social use of resources.

Raffestin (1993) shows that the territory is configured by the space and is the result of an action conducted by a syntagmatic actor (an actor that realizes a program) at any level. By appropriating space in a concrete or abstract way, the actor territorializes the space. Still according o the author, the sense of acting and the appropriation are expressed by the understanding that territory is a space in which work is projected, being it energy or information, and that, by consequence, reveals relations of power. Theis and Galvão (2012, p. 62) conclude that “the concept of territory comprehends the relations of power individuals contract upon themselves”.

By knowing the processes of social formation of territory, knowing the material and immaterial fluxes, it is possible to comprehend the synergy and dynamic of a specific region. Only with the comprehension of territory, with the emergence of a territoriality/identity it is possible to think about region and regionalization; if there isn’t an understanding of territory, there is no regionalization. The region, through the perspective of the territory must be socially constructed and have traces of identity. These traces are present in the culture, economy and politics. Boisier (1994, p. 8) completes that socially constructing a region is

potenciar su capacidad de auto organización, transformando una comunidad inanimada, segmentada por intereses sectoriales, poco perceptiva de su identificación territorial y en definitiva, pasiva, en otra, organizada, cohesionada, consciente de la identidad sociedad-región, capaz de movilizarse tras proyectos colectivos, es decir, capaz de transformarse en sujeto de su propio desarrollo.

Lencioni (1999) affirms that the region is a space with physical and sociocultural characteristics, product of a history that created relations which made men take root in the territory and made this space particular. Region, according to Silveira (2010), today, more than ever, is a result of interdependencies and a dialectic opposition between a global and a local order, and the author highlights that it is in the region that the local and the global affirm and deny themselves dialectically. According to Limonad (2004, p. 57-8), the region is constructed “by the action of distinct actors/agents/subjects in multiple articulated scales, which in some way find a refusal in practices and processes socio-spatial, historical and geographically localized”.

More and more it is stressed that regions are constructed, consolidated, transformed and decomposed through processes of social, political and economic interaction, developed throughout history (BANDEIRA, 2007). That is, seeing the region as a dynamic concept and not as a category that crystalizes contents form the past (SILVEIRA, 2010).

Therefore, the region is not a place for homogeneity, since it is the result of a particular perspective of analysis. This perspective can be physical, social, cultural, economic or even a combination, because the region is composed by various groups of activities and social relations between its actors. In this sense, it becomes evident the dynamic characteristic of the region.

The simplistic act of grouping municipalities with superficial similarities and geographical proximity does not configure a regionalization. This, in its turn, consists in promoting the construction of a democratic, cohesive, participative environment, capable of involving public power, private initiative, the third sector and the resident population.

Regionalization is founded on the necessity or interest of intervention or study of a specific territory. The delimitation of this area depends on criteria and decisions that can be political, administrative, economic or scientific. It cannot be forgotten that besides physical elements, territory is formed by various immaterial, conflicting and dynamic elements. It is also important to emphasize that the results of regionalization must, firstly, answer to the regional society demands. Otherwise, the actor will not develop adherence to the proposal and actions, which generate insignificant results.


The concept of planning is situated in the roll of concepts that comprise diverse meanings according to the interlocutor or field of knowledge. Touristic planning also brings this range and comprises one of the fundamental aspects of the touristic phenomenon.

Feger et al. (2010, p. 114) say that “regarding the future, planning contributes to answering to three types of necessities related to it: creating a future; facing known or predictable future situations; and/or coordinating between events and resources”. Even though planning has a resolute character, Lira (1990, p. 3) shows that

no debe confundirse con la elaboración de un documento denominado Plan o Estrategia porque: a) la selección, priorización, análisis de factibilidad y compatibilidad de los objetivos es una tarea permanente que involucra a todos los representantes de las sociedades regionales de un determinado territorio.

Public management, the main factor responsible for the performance of planning, must seek to act in a coordinated way, promoting partnerships and effectuating a constant flux of information in order to facilitate the process. Therefore, the plan can only be conceptualized by the grouping of a political project (LIRA, 1990).

The establishment of networks between actors of a region and between regions appears to be an important tool for the exchange of information and knowledge and it also configures itself as an action of integration and cooperation. The political actions cannot ignore the information the groups themselves elaborate based on their local universes of living, interacting and working (MARTELETO; SILVA, 2004, p. 48).

The lack of integration between the agents involved in the other spheres of management makes difficult the formulation and execution of planning actions. “In this sense, it is necessary to qualify the planning, follow-up and evaluation systems, network communication and information, in order to widen social participation and guarantee the success of the shared management” (MINISTÉRIO DO TURISMO, 2913, p. 25).

Hence, as affirms Lira (1990, p. 1-2),

"planificar" no es solo un problema técnico, tampoco una mera tarea del Estado, sino más bien una actividad continua de respaldo a un arduo y lento proceso de dialogo y entendimiento social, protagonizado directamente por los actores reales, públicos y privados, como también por la difusa y creciente gama de las entidades no gubernamentales.

Planning is an activity that involves the intention to establish favorable conditions to reach the proposed goals. It has as objective the provisioning of facilities and services so that a community attends to its objectives and necessities (RUSCHMANN, 2001).

To reach the goals proposed by the plans, the specific diagnosis of the touristic area and its potentialities, as well as complementary areas, is providential to the construction of a strategic thought about what is intended for the region. According to Lira (1990, p. 13), “el ‘arte’ de elaborar diagnósticos implica la adecuada selección a priori de marcos interpretativos y de utilizar sabiamente la infraestructura y oferta de información existente si es que realmente se quiere avanzar”.

Tourism, as any other economic activity, sharpened by the capitalist means of production and the territorial division of labor, is installed where the most favorable conditions for its development are found. In this case, the favorable condition is the presence of touristic attractions, understood as a tourism input. After that, the territory of tourism is configured according to the necessities of the activity and imposes its own logic of order.

The main characteristic of tourism, what makes it so complex and brings out the necessity of planning, is its relation to territory. Tourism is seen as the only activity that elementary consumes territory, the product of tourism demands an organizational logic of territory use that is particular. According to Cruz (2000, p. 12), the new socio-spatial organization established by the touristic use of territory is settled in a preexistent socio-spatial organization and it would be a mistake to believe that there are no struggles from the encounter of these different temporalities. The old connections assimilate novelties, but force, in the limit, the coexistence. It is the power of the local/regional, the contiguous space, the co-presence (SILVEIRA, 1997) that is manifested, that is imposed.

In this context, the economic, social, environmental, political and cultural impacts generated by tourism turn into a necessity the process of planning and managing able to orient and constitute itself as a powerful tool for development (MINISTÉRIO DO TURISMO, 2003). Therefore, the way the appropriation of a determined part of territory by tourism occurs depends on the public policy of the sector. It is the public policy task to establish targets and directions to accompany the socio-spatial development of the activity. In the absence of public policy, tourism occurs by default, that is, according to particular initiatives and interests (CRUZ, 2000). As Fratucci explains (2011, p. 1483),

El turismo no es el sujeto de los procesos de turistificación sino el resultado de las acciones e interacciones de los diversos agentes sociales que lo producen, se observa que la dimensión espacial de esos procesos es fundamental para el establecimiento de políticas públicas o privadas que realmente intenten instalar, o incrementar, procesos de desarrollo humano sustentables y duraderos para las comunidades residentes en los destinos turísticos.

It is in the process of globalization that tourism planning is necessary, since through tourism is possible to give value to the particularities and preserve the region identity. That way is created a resistance regarding the rising perverse competitiveness imposed by globalization and the tendency to homogenization of destines.

The perspective of tourism development must transcend the sectorial and corporate conception in order to widen and articulate the various dimensions of the sector, organizations, territory and social participation. In this sense, Ruschmann (2001, p. 100) alerts that the recognition of the amplitude of the phenomenon and the range of factors, besides the interdisciplinary and convergent character of the activity, made planning fundamental.

Therefore, a tourism public policy must articulate strategic questions related to the touristic trade and society, aiming for a non-exclusive strengthening, that opens participation space in new molds of management, that deepens democratic participation also in the field of tourism, advancing beyond a private character, so precious to the capitalist market (GASTAL; MOESCH, 2007).

The implantation of tourism management decentralization consists in a higher approximation to the region situation, not incurring in suppositions about a scenario. It is from management based on reality that decisions are made about the best alternative for development, which doesn’t mean that management is desynchronized with national or state orientations. Paiva (2004) agrees that a diagnosis cannot be made without the full collaboration of local agents, because the potential of each region depends, deeply, on the image local agents have of its potentialities and of the future they idealize.

In order for tourism to be effective, it is not only necessary diagnosis and elaboration of goals. The establishment of relations within the public sector, and with that and society, academia and private initiative is a necessary condition for the regional development of tourism. Still, there must be established relations between municipalities, markets and other parts involved. However, the geographic proximity of the agents involved with tourism is not a sufficient condition for cooperation. It depends, firstly, on the capacity of constructing new regional territorialities and unity in search of common goals.


While approaching the term development it is necessary, firstly, to clarify some related concepts. It is fundamental to distinguish the idea of economic growth, still used as a synonym of development. Economic growth is a concept used since the classics of Economics. For that, a barrier was created which makes it difficult to transcend to the idea of development. For some authors, growth was necessary for progress and translated as a raise in the production of goods of a country. That being, the notion of growth represents a quantitative perspective.

According to Veiga (2006), in reality, until the mid-1970s, practically all identified development solely as material progress. Still, “for some, progress would lead spontaneously to better social standards. […] But all saw development as a synonym of economic growth” (VEIGA, 2006, p. 161).

The logic of economic growth aims for the maximum expansion of production means, disseminating actions throughout the territory that are coherent with the global order. The capacity to produce each time more is increasing and founded on the hegemonic discourse, which refers to growth as progress created by globalization. Consuming is also aligned to the logic of growth, as well as mass consuming, in which the offer exceeds the demand and products and consuming patterns are massified.

Dupas (2007, p. 73) emphasizes the consequences inherent to economic growth “[…] but this progress, dominant discourse of global elites, brings with it exclusion, income concentration, underdevelopment and severe environmental damages, aggressing and restricting essential human rights” [author’s emphasis].

On the other hand, the idea of development is constituted as a qualitative change (VEIGA, 2006) of the Welfare State of society. Souza (1997) comprehends that development is a process of overcoming social problems, forming a more just society for its citizens. However, in order for that to happen, it is necessary to overcome the notion of numeric growth and process and verify to whom this progress “benefit” serves and under which risks and costs, being them social, cultural or environmental.

The adaptation of the capitalist means of production to the notion of development (sustainable or endogenous) is slow and difficult. Therefore, it is not only about a conceptual question, but the challenge do construct, besides a “concept” of the development, a true strategy to raise awareness in order to reach it.

It is presented an idea of development stimulated by bottom-up actions, aiming for an endogenous perspective to articulate decision-making. Through the stimulus to participate and the capability of social organization it is made possible to set in motion endogenous actions, since the agents themselves perform an autonomous relation, mobilized and articulated. Is this case, the population acknowledges its identity and becomes an active subject of regional development. In this context, the process of regional development is composed by the enhancement of the actors’ actions in the territory, configuring a territorial identity.

This notion of development brings up horizontalities. Santos (2006) emphasizes that, based on territorial society it is possible to find a path that doesn’t favor the perverse globalization and approximates development building. In this conception, effective participation of actors is a priority. And, in order for development to be viable, it must be founded in the principles of democracy and cooperation.

In the case of tourism development, public policy must take the tourism conception as an open and complex system, a multisectorial activity which execution must, necessarily, incorporate multidisciplinar, multicultural and multisocial visions (GASTAL; MOESCH, 2007, p. 45). Tourism, as public policy that involves planning and management as a way to advance in the search of a more humane and humanizing practice (GASTAL; MOESCH, 2007), breaching globalizing tourism, must emphasize a development based on territory.

Cruz (2000, p. 17) says that “tourism concurs, in the process of territory transformation for its use, along with other territory uses, as well as socio-spatial formations that precedes its emergence”. In this sense, tourism can promote substantial change within a region.

The clarity of this conception is deeply important, since some tourist destinations, in the absence of organization and after the accentuated economic interest, are developed ignoring regional particularities. This practice results in copy and homogenization of destines. On the other hand, when taking an endogenous approach, territory demands and particularities are emphasized. The constructed, transformed and appropriated territory by the endogenous initiative of regional actors contributes to the regional development. Teles (2006, p. 51) adverts that “when tourism is not planned through the region perspective, it is created an area dislocated from its context”.


The tourism sector in Brazil has struggled lately with the challenge to give continuity to achievements from the last decades and to advance in the widening of actions regarding touristic planning. These actions aim to make viable a continuous and sustainable development and for that a shared management between many sectors and actors involved is necessary.

Taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of tourism, planning is key so that the activity can occur promoting positive results. It is in the practice of planning and managing that public power has an emphatic role. It is its responsibility to prioritize actions that aim to articulate with other economic and social sectors and, at the same time, actions in search of a regional development. Rushmann (2001, p 9) highlights that “[…] the planning of spaces, equipment and touristic activities presents itself as a necessity to avoid damages to the visited locals and maintain attractiveness of resources for future generations”.

At last, besides notable benefits, tourism is an economic activity and its reflexes can translate to harm and risks. In a general way, the negative aspects of the activity originate in the lack of planning and knowledge about the complexity of the touristic phenomenon, as well as overexploiting it.

Therefore, comprehending territory as an expression of appropriation and usage by society is of fundamental importance in order to plan the touristic activity in a sustainable way, enriching regional particularities as well as potentialities for development.


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[1] Bachelor in Tourism – Federal University of Pelotas/RS – UFPEL. Recipient of CNPq scholarship in the Post-Graduate Program in Regional Development – University of Santa Cruz do Sul – UNISC. <>

[2] Professor and Coordinator of the Post-Graduate Program in Regional Development – University of Santa Cruz do Sul – UNISC <>

[3] Graduated in Gastronomy – University of Santa Cruz do Sul. Esp. Business Management. Recipient of BIPSS scholarship in the Post-Graduate Program in Regional Development – University of Santa Cruz do Sul – UNISC <>