Revitalizing tourism and restoring visitors is the biggest goal that tourist destinations are working on as summer approaches. In this line is also Portugal, which recently launched a file A plan to revitalize the sector diversification of activity. The Minister of State for Tourism, Rita Marquez, speak with hosteltor within Features, an exhibition in which this country has been participating for 30 years and which it also wanted to be in this year, in such a special edition, as a sign of its commitment to tourism and business.
How has the epidemic affected the tourism sector in Portugal?
It has been a very difficult year for all countries, both sending and receiving tourism. We had a very severe incarceration of six months, with a small hole in the middle. Hotel owners did not close, only some of them did by decision of businessmen, but not by imposition of the government. We understood that it was necessary to house health workers and other professionals.
Our priority last year was maintaining security and then maintaining business. We have put in place a wide range of measures to ensure their survival of more than 2,600 million euros in financial aid. Most of them managed to overcome this situation and are ready to work and receive tourists who want to visit us. Portugal is open from the 1st of May. Now the health indicators are very good and it is time to revitalize tourism.
How do you prepare to receive tourists?
We never stopped communicating We were the first marketplace to launch an international campaign under the slogan “It’s time to stop”, it was a harsh message, but it was a reality. Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, we won the Best Tour Brand in Europe. Now we have presented a specific plan for tourism. It is very ambitious and we intend to follow the procedures that we set out four years ago, and we believe the conditions are in place to achieve the goals.
What are the main axes of the plan?
He has four. The first relates to companies, to ensure that they have the capital to resume their activity. The second is to ensure a higher level of security for all who wish to visit the country. Third, create business through campaigns to promote our international image. The fourth is building the future.
We have an important set of measures related to sustainability and digitalization because we want more tourism, but we also want to protect the planet
Rita Marquez, at the Portugal Pavilion, at the latest edition of Vitor, which took place last May.
What are your expectations for the summer?
Last year we had a positive summer, despite the pandemic, and we expect this year to be 20-30% better, although we won’t get back the 2019 numbers until 2023. In 2019 Portugal registered 27 million tourists, nearly 17 million of them are foreigners.
This year we expect 12 million passengers, between nationals and foreigners, compared to eight million last year
What are the main foreign markets?
Spain, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Brazil.
Portugal is the trendiest destination in the world. Have you ever feared that the epidemic would damage your tourism image?
Frankly, the opposite. The Portuguese tourism brand has come out strong from this pandemic. We’ve had time to think about what we want for the future, to think about more sustainable, more planet-friendly tourism, and I think we now have better conditions to achieve that goal.
Have you also thought about the tourism model?
We have a very clear tourism strategy, designed four years ago, that has come out much stronger with this pandemic and is well understood by employers, workers and sector agents. I can highlight two very positive aspects at this time. On the one hand, many companies have made significant investments to renovate their assets, and on the other hand, with tourism schools in Portugal, we have developed a free online training program followed by more than 80,000 people, training with more commitment was related to digitization and sustainability. It’s a good sign of how companies are preparing for the future. In addition, we are developing a plan to accelerate sustainability in the next three years.
What concrete measures will they be promoting?
The plan has four axes, one of which is to invest in the offer so that entrepreneurs adapt to everything related to digital and green and from the point of view of consumption, energy and water … Another has to do with training and qualification of people. The third focuses on vision, and how we promote Portugal as a sustainable destination. The fourth relates to monitoring. We already have four sustainability observatories across the territory, there are seven areas and three are missing, and this will help us know what we need to improve.
What do you think of the digital green certificate that will be implemented in the European Union to facilitate travel?
During this first semester, Portugal is chairing the Council of the European Union and we have worked hard to achieve the Digital Green Certificate. It’s a positive measure that if put to good use by member states, it’s important to avoid quarantine and make sure we can all travel safely. In addition, we have our own system that is now being implemented as a beta test in Madeira.
Over four years ago, they launched the Revive Project to restore historic buildings and put them into private hands, through a concession system, for tourism purposes. How is it developed?
very good. We have just launched a monastery very close to Lisbon, in a protected area. Of the 44 buildings that make up the program, it makes up 24 of those that have already been put up or in competition, some of which have already opened, others under construction. So far, investors, mostly from Portugal, have invested 150 million euros in these iconic buildings. In addition, for the state, it represents an income of 2.4 million per year for an abandoned heritage. We also have a financing line on very good terms, we have 150 million euros.