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Oil in the Algarve - tourism chief says "good sense will prevail"

autodromehotel2The new Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, has been in the Algarve again, this time to meet business associations in order to gather input for a strategy to "combat seasonality" in the region.

Ana Mendes Godinho said she today met the six major Algarve business associations, as she wanted to "gauge the position of these associations and establish networking" to allow everyone to "identify specific actions to reduce seasonality in the region."

The Secretary of State gave examples of those actions needed to promote the uptake of new routes or to create new tourism products that enable the region to increase the number of out-of-summer visitors. She was asked when her work would produce an intervention programme, the response that "work is ongoing" and that she hopes to implement some of the measures later this year.

Ana Mendes Godinho seems already to have developed the politician’s skill of saying lots of lovely sounding words which mean very little. 

She "needs the Algarve tourist destination to continue to innovate and renew itself" in order to be able to "seize the opportunity" and attract tourists who are coming here due to instability in other areas of the world.

Interestingly, Godinho visited the Algarve International Autodrome and kart track, where she was shown an uncompleted five-star hotel.

"We were able to visit the site of the new hotel which is to be opened at the Autodrômo Internacional do Algarve, which will be the first five-star hotel in Portimão to emerge in the last 47 years. This is a sign of renewal and innovation of the Algarve destination, which should grab the opportunity that is emerging with the international demand for holidays," she said.

The hotel was to be managed by Pestana in a partnership announced last year with Autodrome company Parkalgar, with an opening date of "the second half of 2015" but remains closed and the adjoining Vista de Falcao and Vista das Ondas apartments unsold and unlet with ripped-off investors still not dealt with.

An e-mail enquiry to Parkalgar's chief executive Paulo Pinheiro, asking when the hotel will open and what happened to the Pestana deal, remains unanswered.

Either Sra Godinho is blissfully unaware of the financial history of the Autodrome, or chose to include it in her tour to give the site some much needed publicity.

Now subsidised by the taxpayer, the loss-making Autodrome is operating under a revitalisation programme that left 288 suppliers financially disadvantaged and the State company Portugal Capital Ventures stepping in to lease the track and run events at a risk to the taxpayer. 

At a later ceremony to award medals to tourist people and companies*, the president of the Algarve Regional Tourism board, Desidério Silva, today said he did not want to talk much about oil exploration in the Algarve.

Silva did say said that he was certain that "good sense will prevail" and already he has spoken to Ana Mendes Godinho about oil and gas and was sure that “nothing would happen that would jeopardize tourism which is vital to the region's economy and to the country.”

The tourism chief, scanning the horizon for flying pigs, said in an interview with Sul Informação that he was optimistic, "I believe in this, as in the railway, the tolls, the port of Portimão and VAT for restaurants, that positive factors will emerge, because otherwise many people will be disappointed."

"I want to believe this, because I trust in the Secretary of State for Tourism and I have spoken with her several times since she took office. We have had the opportunity to talk about the problems already diagnosed and in which we want to intervene," added Silva.

Ana Mendes Godinho had enough sense to not mention oil and gas exploration as the Prime Minister already has said that the current exploration programme will go ahead as the contracts already have been signed with the oil companies.

The PM seems able to tear up the TAP sale contract but not those with the oil companies.

 

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*The Algarve’s regional tourism authority decided to make awards to 16 people and companies working in the sector.

Gold medals were awarded to: Christopher Stilwell; Universidade do Algarve; APAVT; Vila Joya; Vilamoura Marina, Dom José Hotel, Luis Correia da Silva, Vítor Neto, Chef Henrique Leandro, the Mediterranean Diet, Vasco da Gama Hotel, Mário Valente, Safe Communities Algarve, Hotel Algarve Casino, Hotel Pestana Alvor and Penina Hotel and Golf all of which received medals for Mérito Turístico.

In addition to these awards, diplomas of merit were handed out to former tourist board presidents for their sterling work in past years. Large trebles all round!

For the Pestana/Parkalgar deal announcement, see  -

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5899-pestana-to-manage-the-autodrome-s-luxury-hotel-and-apartments

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