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What is the most important prize in Chinese international tourism?

by Apolónia Rodrigues, special to eTN

The Chinese Tourist Welcome (CTW) Award issued a Bronze prize in the Innovation category to Dark Sky® Alqueva. The CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Award was organized by COTRI China Outbound Tourism since 2004 and celebrates the best practices and outcomes in attracting and satisfying Chinese visitors throughout the world.

The CTW Awards are presented during an annual ceremony and include five categories:

Product Innovation


Quality of service


General performance

The CTW Awards bestow more than recognition, in that they present an image of prestige in the eyes of Chinese tourists and tourism enterprises. The awards are recognized within and outside China as the most important prize in the Chinese international tourism market, with wide coverage in the printed and electronic press.

China is by far the world’s largest outbound tourism market, and the search for destinations and experiences that are different, such as Dark Sky® Alqueva, is becoming increasingly obvious.

Dark Sky® Alqueva, whose creation dates back to 2007, is a Portuguese astrotourism destination. It is based on knowledge acquired over time, which provides a solid ground for belief and investment in astrotourism as a future trend in tourist demand. Since 2007, it has developed as a sustainable destination whose basis is treating the night sky as a valuable resource. Allied with this is the mission to protect the night sky by working to attain a condition of virtually zero light pollution.

In 2011, it became the first Starlight Tourism Destination in the world and in 2018 became the first cross border destination of its kind. It began with six Portuguese council areas and today embraces an area of 9,700 km2 around the lake of Alqueva between Portugal and Spain.

Integrated within the network of Dark Sky® destinations, there has recently been created Dark Sky® Aldeias de Xisto (“schist villages”) resulting from an alliance between these two brands. Included are partnerships with the CIM of the Region of Coimbra, the Pampilhosa da Serra municipal authority, the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto and the Institute of Telecommunications of the University of Aveiro.

The Aldeias de Xisto network is a sustainable development project, a regional project led by ADXTUR – Agência para o Desenvolvimento Turístico das Aldeias do Xisto (the agency for the development of schist villages) in partnership with 20 municipal authorities in the central region of Portugal with more than 100 operators, supported by Centro 2020. AUXTUR thus brings together public sector and private sector regional requirements, which are revealed in the shared management of a brand, the shared promotion of a region, increased wealth through the provision of tourism services, and ultimately in the preservation of the culture and the heritage of this region.

The award was delivered in a ceremony held during ITB China in Shanghai.

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