On a webinar with Irish travel media, Susana Cardoso, Director – Ireland, Visit Portugal, announced the opening of several new attractions and hotels and highlighted the importance of sustainability and the slow tourism trend.
New Attractions and Accommodations
Located on the outskirts of Porto in the Arouca Geopark is where the newly opened, longest hanging pedestrian bridge in the world can be found. Not for the fainthearted, this bridge, which is 516 metres in length, will give visitors a rush of adrenaline as they take the 5-10-minute walk across. Those that brave the walk will be rewarded with great views of the mountainous terrain of Arouca Geopark. Find out more here.
Despite the difficult year, 16 new hotels have opened in Portugal in 2020. Five of these 4-star and 5-star hotels are located in the Lisbon Region, as well as five more in the Porto and the North Region. The other six are located throughout the country, including Vila Galé Collection Alter Real – Equestrian Resort, Conference & Spa, located on the Alter Stud Farm in Alentejo, deemed the oldest in the world to operate uninterruptedly in the same place. This boutique hotel is inspired by the site’s history and offers an equestrian theme.
Another newly opened hotel is Vila Galé Serra da Estrela, a mountain hotel that offers great activities for the whole family. Located on Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in continental Portugal, this is the only place where you can expect to see snow and the only ski-stay in the country. Serra da Estrela was named this year as a World GeoPark by UNESCO, making it an ideal location for outdoor activities, exploring hiking, or simply enjoying the beautiful nature and wildlife.
Three Portuguese destinations were deemed to have Excellent Good Practice Story submitted in this year’s Top 100 Sustainable Destinations by Green Destinations, including Sintra, the Azores, and the Dark Sky Alqueva. Portugal is committed to becoming an even more sustainable destination and recently launched a strategy to reach specific goals in the tourism industry by 2023, including:
- Increase by 50% the number of tourist companies with energy efficiency, water, and waste management systems
- Reduce single use plastic by 50% in 4-star and 5-star establishments
- Reach 25,000 adherents to the Clean & Safe stamp as well as 30,000 trained in the subject and more than a thousand audited establishments (21,676 stamps have already been issued and 23,000 people trained)
- Have 50,000 trained professionals in sustainability subjects
- Reach 500 international references of Portugal as a sustainable destination
These goals will be achieved by:
- Adapting legislation
- Financially supporting businesses in the tourism industry to become more sustainable and accessible
- Protecting the places more vulnerable to climate change
- Reducing plastic use
- Make reutilisation and waste reduction a common practice in restaurants
- Save energy and promote efficiency and carbon neutrality
For eco-conscious travellers visiting Portugal, Susana Cardoso revealed that there are over 200 accommodations with sustainability certifications around the country, from campsites to luxury hotels to rural tourism accommodation units.
Slow tourism is a trend that has seen an increase in recent years, with more and more travellers wanting to connect with local people, experience local culture and food. Visit Portugal welcomes this trend and Susana outlined that Portugal is home to numerous rural areas, quaint towns, and charming villages where visiting tourists can stay and experience the real Portugal.
One such destination is Porto Santo, the small island in the archipelago of Madeira, which has the longest beach in Portugal and which Susana described as “Portugal’s hidden gem”.
For rural tourism in mainland Portugal there are 2,200 rural accommodation units, offering an average price of €80 per room, and for hikers a nationwide system of Portuguese Trails.
At the recent World Travel Awards 2020., Portugal received several accolades: ‘World’s Leading City Break Destination 2020’ went to Lisbon, ‘World’s Leading Beach Destination 2020’ was awarded to The Algarve, ‘World’s Leading Island Destination 2020’ was won by the Madeira Islands, and “World’s Leading Tourism Development Project 2020’ went to Dark Sky Alqueva.
In addition, ‘Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2020’ was awarded to the Sublime Comporta Country Retreat & Spa, located on a 17-acre estate one hour’s drive south of Lisbon.
The diverse tourism offerings of Portugal will be showcased to Irish travel agents during the three-day Irish Travel Agents Association annual conference to be held in Évora from 15-18 October 2021, with an option for golfers to arrive early on 14 October. The itinerary will include delegate transfers to and from Lisbon Airport, golf, lunch and dinner venues, as well as a range of other activities. There will be a special dinner for delegates on the day of the conference, with a Gala Dinner on the final evening.