Route tourism: meaning and description of the main characteristics Sustainability and sustainable tourism are becoming more and more common words. Nevertheless, the knowledge of all the elements that contribute to the dissemination of sustainable practices are still partial and so further study is needed to definitively understand the peculiarity and potential. Among these, the c.d. “slow tourism” is perhaps among the less known, although it is now consolidating as a very interesting market (Dodds, 2012). Born from the thrust of the slow food movement that emerged in Italy at the end of the 80s (Guiver & McGrath, 2016), slow tourism and slow travel are terms of increasing use even if still without a shared definition (Moira et al., 2017; Guiver & Mc Grath, 2016). A first overview of slow travels was proposed by Lumsdon and Mcgrath (2011) who listed the characteristics of this market: slowness and time value; authenticity of the destination; travel arrangements and travel experience; environmental awareness and sustainability. Thetypes oftravel that include consumption practices generally considered to feature slow tourism contain various experiences such as participating in local traditions, perhaps in a rented accommodation, eating and drink in glocal products while exploring the area on foot or by bike (Guiver et al., 2016). The emerging literature on this theme suggests that, considering the growth of “slow” concepts in other fields such as slow food, there is the possibility to use the adjective “slow” also in tourism marketing and branding destination development plans(Presenza et al., 2015). Among the types of slow tourism, the one that is attracting the greatest attention in Europe and, in particular, in Italy is the tourism of the routes (route tourism: Murray & Graham, 1997; Briedenhann & Wickens, 2004). The most famous example is the “Camino de Santiago” (Spain), that in 2016 recorded over 250,000 walkers or, looking at the Italian context, the “Via Francigena” that recorded over 40,000 walkers. In confirmation of what has been highlighted, it is important to mention that the Italian Ministry of Tourism has already promoted 2016 as the year of the walking paths and has announced that 2019 will be the year of slow tourism. However, in spite of the growing interest in slow travel - and, in particular, on the route tourism – a recent research (Khan, 2015) shows that still few tourist proposals and few destinations are characterized as slow tourism. Research objectives and methodology Given the importance of this type of tourism for Italy and for the Umbria region in particular, the research has the following objectives: 1) to identify the presence in the Umbria region of tourist offers identifiable as tourism routes; 2) to analyze the commercial proposals (communication, inclusion in packages, special packages, etc.); 3) to estimate the impacts of this type of tourism on the destination (Mason, 2015) through the analysis of the economic-financial repercussions; socioculturalandenvironmental;visibilityandnotoriety. From the methodological point of view, the study uses the multiple case study approach (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2009). Data collection for the analysis of the case studies will be carried out as follows: for points 1 and 2 (currently in progress) through a content analysis of the Internet materials of the Umbra tourist offer traceable on the basis of the key words “Walking routes”, “Walking”, “Slow tourism”, “Slow tourism”, and “Slow travel”. For point 3 the analysis will be carried out on specialized tourism journals. From the direct stories of tourists we will try to derive their behavior of tourism consumption both in terms of quality (what they do) and in monetary terms (how much they spend). Through the definition of the typical profiles of walkers and an estimate of their number, we will try to achieve a qualitative and quantitative measurement of the impact on the destination.
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