The president of the Algarve Tourism Board, Desidério Silva, said today in Lisbon that tour operators have to work throughout the year to combat seasonality, referring to the need to strengthen the supply of tourists between October and May.
"We want a sustainable region for six months; we want a sustainable region throughout the year," said Desidério Silva, explaining that he is working with the government to "find a solution that minimises the impact of seasonality."
Everyone is at the Lisbon Tourist Fair at the moment, vying for sound bites and column inches, Silva among them who picked on the old chestnut of ‘seasonality’ to demonstrate that he is doing something about this most elusive of concepts.
Silva now is blaming a fall in demand on tour operators, who in turn blame tourists for not wanting to go to the Algarve during the winter months.
Silva said "we need to find a balance" and operators have a responsibility to "meet the level of demand" of tourists and demanded that "hotels have to open earlier and close later."
"We will work on sporting events, cultural events and will also seek to recover our roots and our traditions," said Silva, adding that the Algarve will continue to provide a diverse offering while convincing no one that he has a grip on the subject.
The president of the Algarve’s tourist board had another go at TAP, stating that the service provided by the airline at Faro airport "is clearly a shame."
But the tourism boss had one ace up his sleeve, a children’s book in Portuguese called ‘Algarve, quem és tu?’ (Algarve, who are you?) which will be made available to youngsters with "suggestions for tours, trivia and fun activities to do as a family in each of the Algarve’s municipalities." How this will fill the seasonal tourism gap remains to be explained.
Vila Real de Santo António council had bigger projects in mind at the Fair when launching a €200 million investment opportunity for major new tourist facilities.
The area along the sea front in Monte Gordo could be transformed with the construction of six new hotels and the almost total redevelopment of the area.
According to the VRSA mayor, speaking as if the project already is underway, "the operation is the largest tourism project ever undertaken in the county and includes the construction of four hotels, which will bring the area about 1,500 new beds."
"New accommodation alone is expected to bring an investment of €185 million, which shows a strong tourism strategy and will create dozens of jobs," says Luís Gomes, the council’s mayor.
The redevelopment of VRSA’s Guadiana Hotel will begin later this month and "also this year the construction of the Hotel Vila Real de Santo Antonio and Sports Complex will start."
Next, there are three smaller hotel units being created in the historic centre of VRSA in Baixa Pombalina.
There are big plans for Monte Gordo with "the largest urban redevelopment operation ever performed along the sea front with the creation of a large promenade with green spaces plus leisure areas for commerce, shops and restaurants."
The project will begin in September 2016 and "aims to meet the objectives set out in the Coastal Zone Management Plan (POOC) Vilamoura - VRSA."
The total cost of the contract for the redevelopment of the beach front, which will join the new hotel, is €15 million.
In addition to an almost unregonisable Monte Gordo, there is to be a new zone called ‘Cacela Beach.’
This worrying concept 'unifies' Manta Rota beaches, Lota and Cacela Velha/Fabrica, giving a new identity to this unique coastal strip located at the beginning of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Although each beach will keep its unique identity, the new brand is to assert Cacela beaches as "a unique place, familiar and natural."
These are, according to VRSA council, "attributes that have earned these beaches the title of best in the world by specialist magazines and is one of the reasons for the UNESCO application"
All the council now needs are investors who share its view of the future that Monte Gordo should become an even larger and swankier mass tourism destination.
The council is dreaming of the income from property taxes but whether VRSA/Monte Gordo is the right place for a tourist development of this scale remains to be seen. The investors will decide.
Design for new waterfront