An interview with Professor, João Viljoen de Vasconcelos

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João Viljoen de Vasconcelos, is a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria. With an undergraduate degree in geography, a masters in Spatial Planning and a PhD in Environment, he has developed most of his research as an integrated member at the University of Lisbon. His deep interest in sustainability has led him to some projects that focus on the sustainability of territories, such as the co-management process of the Berlengas Nature Reserve and the enhancement of cultural heritage associated with olive growing in Portugal.

In this brief interview, João expresses his view on the role of audiovisual communication in the context of tourism and how a festival like ART&TUR can contribute resilience and sustainability of the industry, while also discussing the history of his collaboration with the festival and revealing a little about himself and his projects.

What do you think is the role of audiovisual communication in the context of tourism?

A: Their relationship is intimate, umbilical. The image of a destination is built long before the decision is made to travel to a certain place. The structures that feed the construction of these images are generated by multiple sources, whose identification is almost never clear or immediate. They are not always linked to tourism or the promotion of the place. However, it is evident that an important part of the images of this “visitable place” that inhabits our minds, stems from the production of content aimed at tourism or at promoting the destination.

I believe that tourism deeply benefits from audiovisual communication through the promotion of destinations. I am not just referring to the commercial promotion of territories, centred on notoriety or maximizing visitations, but above all, through the communication of the touristic experience and the affirmation of values. Destinations assert themselves through audiovisual communication.

Perhaps due to the importance audiovisual communication plays in the touristic experience and tourism in general, it works it carefully even thoroughly, I would say.

Tourism destinations compete and communicate amongst themselves through audiovisual. This turns audiovisual communication into a tool that is vital for tourism. It is a “universal language” that allows places to communicate with anyone.

How can ART&TUR contribute to increasing sustainability and resilience in tourism?

A: I believe ART&TUR benefits from the recognition and power to penetrate a very significant audience. This legacy carries with it the responsibility to contribute with a positive impact in its various areas of influence.

ART&TUR is not limited to film competition. Traditionally the event is also comprised of scientific sessions, debates and exhibitions that invariably promote and discuss the concepts of sustainability.

I would also like to underline the ongoing commitment on previous editions to the creation of a prize dedicated to the category of sustainability, which I believe to be indicative of some initiatives promoted by ART&TUR to communicate sustainability in tourism.

Perhaps a specific category on climate and the effects of climate change is yet to be created.

How many years have you collaborated with ART&TUR and what would you highlight about this collaboration?

A: My connection with ART&TUR started in 2016 and I have since been collaborating as a member of the jury. Occasionally, I have also collaborated in some activities, such as scientific meetings (think tanks) or in debate sessions.

I feel that from this collaboration, I managed to develop a critical opinion over the produced audiovisual content, as well as on its interpretation and evaluation. I find it particularly interesting for the competition to be overseen by such a diverse jury with different backgrounds and origins. I believe that in this specific scenario, diversity and heterogeneity greatly benefit the evaluation of films submitted to the competition.

Tell us a little about yourself and your projects.

A: I am a curious individual. I have a degree in geography and I’m a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, since 2006. I completed a Masters in Spatial Planning and a PhD in Environment, always focusing on the relationship between the physical environment and the human context.

With regard to scientific research, I was coordinator of the Research Group of the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria between 2013/16 and have, since then, developed most of my research as an integrated member of the Centre for Geographical Studies of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning from the University of Lisbon.

Although I have a deep interest in the area of ​​sustainability in general, I have always been in love with the intersection of knowledge and especially the border areas.

I have a special interest in climate change and the relationship between climatology and human health, having participated in the development of several climate change adaptation plans in Portugal.

I am also part of the IGOT team that is developing the eMotional Cities project, which seeks to study the relationship between the urban environment and human health, namely neurological activity.

Recently I have been involved in some projects that focus on the sustainability of territories, such as the co-management process of the Berlengas Nature Reserve and the enhancement of cultural heritage associated with olive growing in Portugal.

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