ASTO – Alentejo Sustainable Tourism Observatory is a laboratory based at the University of Évora, which aims to monitor the evolution of sustainable tourism development in Alentejo and Lezíria do Tejo destination. It acknowledges the production of information as a fundamental capital for the training of tourism agents and for the development of the tourism system. Regional Research & Development. It is the result of a partnership between the University of Évora and the Regional Tourism Authority of Alentejo and Ribatejo, with the support of Turismo de Portugal and the involvement of the Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre and the Polytechnic Institute of Santarém. Since 2018 it has been part of the INSTO – International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories network, led by the World Tourism Organization since 2004.
The aim of ASTO is to measure and monitor the behaviour of regional tourism destinations with regard to sustainable tourism development, using the reference methodology proposed by INSTO-UNWTO. In the thematic domain of sustainability, ASTO has established itself as a space for technical-scientific analysis on an intersectoral and interdisciplinary basis in order to monitor and measure the evolution of tourism in the Alentejo region.
The adoption of the INSTO-UNWTO methodology has the advantage of being an international instrument for the production and measurement of data, facilitating the comparison of performance and progress between different destinations worldwide (INSTO Observatories), without neglecting the need to integrate indicators that reflect economic specificities, governance, social, cultural and ecological aspects of the sectoral situation of each of the tourist territories. Currently, the WTO encourages all members of the network to focus their monitorization work on at least 9 core issue areas: Tourism Seasonality, Employment, Destination Economic Benefits, Governance, Local Satisfaction, Energy Management, Water Management, Waste Water (Sewage) Management and Solid Waste Management. Depending on the resources available, ASTO will also prioritize work in these 9 areas, although with different development rates and approaches.