(eTN) – The first Official Tourism Department in Portugal was established on May 16, 1911 by the foreign ministry Bernardino Machado during the International Touring Clubs Congress held in Lisbon at the Geographic Society from May 12 to 16 before a record attendance of 1,500 members from Europe.
Now, a three-party commission is organizing from May 12 to 16, 2011, also at Sociedade de Geografia in Lisbon, a comprehensive program of events, starting tomorrow with a four-day Congress on 100 Years of Tourism in Portugal. Some 80 speakers (half of whom are lecturers and researchers from the main Portuguese universities), and also private and public executives, will address all relevant matters and trends about these 100 years and the challenges facing hotels, carriers, operators, theme parks, destinations, and governments. This has been possible with the joint efforts from the leaders of Lisbon University, TP – the present Portuguese Tourism Official Institute – and the Geographic Society.
Tourism press, rail and motorcar travel, and promotion mix
The intense diplomatic and political work behind the above 1911 official ceremony needs to be known again to tourism experts, students, and contemporary travelers as well. Portugal’s government took this decision in May 1911, just about seven months after the fall of the monarchy, and the republic was empowered. At the time, the acceptance of tourism into the government sphere was not followed by most European countries. As a matter of fact, nowadays there are also governments backing away from engaging into promoting and supervising tourism, while just worrying how to find the easiest way to increase taxes on travel and holidays. But in 1911, in the center of Lisbon, a large audience of pioneer experts on travel and tourism learned about this outstanding move by the Portuguese government.
This brilliant measure is owed to the untamed will of Leonildo Mendonça Costa, editor of the “Railways Gazette” (GCF), published March 15, 1888. More than a monthly magazine about rail travel, the GCF was the first and only travel magazine of that period in Portugal. It featured sections about travel and transport, as well as spas, and beach and rural resorts. In 1907, he also published the first Traveler’s Handbook in Portugal. He died in 1922, and Carlos d’Ornelas took over both editorships from 1924 to 1940.
Traveling from Paris to Lisboa by rail since 1887
Leonildo had a fantastic career, from a mid-manager to chief inspector of the Portuguese Railways Company, he traveled a lot through Europe. Let us remind that the Sud Express had begun its service, linking Paris and Lisbon, on October 21, 1887. And in 1990, this pioneer international train conquered the fastest European train award.
Leonildo was also a regular contributor of “Diário de Notícias,” which still is one of the main daily newspapers in Portugal. This wide experience enabled Leonildo to establish useful contacts with other European rail systems and its booming Touring Clubs. With Portuguese partners also enthusiastic about rail and motorcar travel, he was one of the founders and presidents of Propaganda Society of Portugal (SPP), created in Lisbon in 1906, to promote domestic, incoming, and outgoing travel and tourism and to interchange with the government. The Royal Automobile Club of Portugal had been approved on May 31, 1903, focusing on the development of motor racing and pleasure riding, towards motor sports and leisure.
90 years flying to Rio de Janeiro and 50 years cruising on board m.s. Funchal
Next year, Portugal and Brazil celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first Southern Atlantic flight from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, where Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho arrived on July 17, 1922. And in 2011, Portugal also celebrates the 50th anniversary of m.s Funchal, a cruise ship built in 1961,and undergoing at present an overall refit and modernization at a Lisbon shipyard to carry on operating special cruises to international tour operators all over the world. Its present owner is George Potamianos. His five-ship fleet all hoist Portuguese flags.
But it is not only about the past that the members of this Lisbon congress meet. They will also present plans and procedures on how to keep Portugal in the forefront of international holidays and business travel demand.