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elements that can be considered as more specifi c
are usually found around some general element
to which they are related, and they are usually
rather far away from the centre (i.e. consider the
depth of such specifi c elements as 'Literature',
'History' or 'Art', with an average depth com-
prised between 1.72 and 1.78, and compare it
with the more general category 'Culture', placed
at an average depth of 1.46). There is an inter-
esting exception in the case of the wall, which
has to be considered a very specifi c element, but
is placed at an average depth of 1.58, almost the
same depth of such a generic element as 'Built
Heritage'. Concerning the other variable of this
graphic, the average of links, it turns out that
each element is related to one or more other ele-
ments. If an element is represented with many
links, it means that respondents attribute to this
element a structural role in the offerings of a city.
As in the case of depth, the more generic ele-
ments have a higher number of links than the
more specifi c concepts (i.e. 'economy in general'
has an average of 2.73 links, while 'cattle
farming' has an average of only 1.16 links). For
the average visitor, the elements with higher
structural relevance are (beside the previously
mentioned 'economy in general'): the fact of
being 'capital of its province' (2.4 links), the 'built
heritage', monuments in general (2.24), 'art'
(2.19), 'regional cuisine' (2.18), tourism (2.09),
'traditions and folklore' (2.08) and 'culture' (2).
These data allow checking whether the
internalized tourist gaze of local authorities cor-
responds to tourists' image of Ávila, and whether
they are applying their efforts to the right aims.
The answer is mixed: in part yes and in part no.
Ávila's image is indeed strongly linked to built
heritage, to Saint Therese and other religious
issues, as well as to local cuisine. However, the
rest of the tourism strategy does not show all the
expected results in terms of image: Ávila does
not appear as a birthplace of Spanish language,
nor as an important congress centre. This could
change in the future, as strategies need several
years before having any effect, but the meaning
maps suggest a more serious issue: a lack of
adequate and integrated eco-tourism offerings.
In fact, an important share (21%) of the mental
representation of Ávila is held by nature, wild-
life, landscapes and country life, all elements
that are neglected or considered of secondary
importance by the tourism strategy of the city.
Another tool was developed to diversify
the angles of approach. This time the sample is
composed of real tourists, i.e. visitors inter-
viewed in Ávila, at the Tourist Information
Offi ce. In this case, the survey was a question-
naire with several questions, the last of which
regarded specifi cally the perception of Ávila's
cultural offering. Subjects were asked to quote
the three elements of any kind that best repre-
sented Ávila. Figure 10.5 shows that the most
representative specifi c elements are the wall,
Saint Theresa, the Cathedral, the churches and
monasteries of the city and, to some extent,
local cuisine. Generally speaking, it turns out
that visitors view tangible heritage assets as
more representative than intangible ones.
Questions arise when these results are
compared to those of the meaning maps, for
instance: why are 'Nature', 'Local cuisine' and
'Culture and history' almost non-represented in
this graphic, while they had a certain weight in
the other? The reason lies in the nature of the
sample, (real tourists vs potential visitors). For
some reason related to the communication and
attraction-design strategies, the mental repre-
sentation of Ávila differs depending on whether
one is a potential or real tourist. In other words,
the people who go to Ávila are specifi cally inter-
ested in built heritage and religion, and no
efforts are made to attract people interested in
nature, wildlife, outskirts and country life.
These results indicate that local authorities
are partially succeeding in creating the image
they want (Ávila, city of built heritage, religion,
local cuisine, language courses and congresses),
but are wasting an important tourist resource:
nature, wildlife and parks. There exist tourism
attractions devoted to this resource, but these
are not integrated within the offerings of the
city: there are dozens of packages to come to
Ávila to see a theatre play or a concert on the
walls, and spend the night in a hotel, but there
are almost no packages to come to Ávila to visit
the wall and have a walk in a nearby Natural
Park, and sleep in a country B&B.
The two examples examined demonstrate how
diffi cult it is to fi nd tourism strategies planned
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