LISBON, Portugal (eTN) – The five-day Congress of the Centenary of the first Portuguese Tourism Office was a success, with over 700 participants attending the event from May 12 to 16. The program goes on until January 2012, with different exhibitions and shows throughout the main holiday destinations relating to this historic period.
The highlights of the program were the “Fado” Show featuring the candidacy of the typical song from Lisbon to UNESCO’s Heritage standing on the opening evening and the three films about Portugal’s pioneering promotions: “Nazaré” a fishing and holiday village (from 1929), “Lisboa” an European capital with kitchen-gardens surrounding the slopes of its spectacular castle (1929), and “Albufeira” a fishing village which turned into the most popular holiday resort in the Algarve (1968), shown after the closing ceremony.
Last Saturday, participants also enjoyed discussing the turning edge of the cruising industry, on board MSC Poesia, and had lunch on one of the regular ships cruising along the ports of Lisbon, Madeira, Azores, Algarve, and Oporto.
The evening was spent in Estoril. First at the opening of an outstanding exhibition: “Estoril and the origins of Tourism in Portugal,” followed by a wine tasting at the world famous Estoril Palace Hotel in the preserved atmosphere where many exiled European crowned heads found shelter, since 1930 and the Second World War. Estoril is, in fact, a landmark in European tourism. It was credited as a royal beach since 1867, a spa since 1880, a railway to Lisbon since 1889, a casino since 1891, and a link to Paris, via the Sud-Express (the vintage train still runs from Paris to Lisbon since 1887, and which finished its course in Estoril for some time).
ELEVEN PROPOSALS AFTER 100 YEARS
After some 80 papers presented in 17 working sessions, the congress drew up and submitted 11 proposals to the government, associations, universities, and tourism-travel companies.
The “Centenary Congress” convened in Lisbon from May 12 to 16, 2011, supports the following summary of proposals:
1 – Official and trade partners should strengthen education, research, planning, promotion programs, and association steps, launching solid bridges with tourism suppliers featuring international, domestic, and social operations.
2 – Optimizing the Portuguese strategic advantages and contributions towards the academic, enterprising, professional, and public development of the tourist industry.
3 – Expanding tourism knowledge through allied ventures between trade and universities, as well as making the best use of international networks and partnerships.
4 – Organizing the Tourism Research Agenda, as a national objective focused in strengthening incoming tourism as a leading exports’ source.
5 – Developing adequate strategies leading to a greater competitiveness of Portugal as a leading international tourism destination.
6 – Reducing differences at the border areas in Portugal and Spain in order to raise its joint power of tourism attractiveness. Focusing and reinforcing also tourism promotional actions throughout the Portuguese-speaking countries in order to create and market specific lusophonic tourist products, as well as a strong Portuguese-speaking global network of Tourism Research Centers.
7 – Reducing bureaucracy in tourism procedures and creating an efficient network with other official and private sectors, working closely with tourism, under the joint banner of a tourism-mix common scheme.
8 – Urging the Lisbon government to maintain the present intermediate structure of VAT (Value Added Tax) applied in Portugal to the food industry in general, but looking forward to a brief harmonization of VAT with Spain, so that national restaurants and other tourism business are no longer harmed by this substantial uncompetitive factor.
9 – Enhancing cultural, historic, architectural heritage, as well as the preservation of landscape, the coast, and the traditions, as essential factors to launch new added-value travel, holiday, and meeting products.
10 – Supporting the candidacy of “Fado” to the statute of Immaterial Heritage of Humanity, and projecting the “Fado Passport” composition, specially created for the Tourism Centenary by the voice of singer Mafalda Arnauth. A brief note to explain that the Argentinian Tango and the Spanish Flamenco have already achieved UNESCO’s approval.
11 – Preparing the Portuguese Tourism Museum by defining consensual criteria towards listing the inventory, tracing, studying, preserving, restoring, and disclosing the iconographic and bibliographic heritage, associated to the history of tourism in Portugal.
THE PROMPT OFFICIAL AGREEMENT
Luis Patrao, President of the public institute, “Turismo de Portugal,” (TP is the “heir” of the 1911 Tourist Office) was the closing lecturer at this Centenary Congress. He congratulated the 110-strong national committee for the excellent work done and said that the event was a good step forward. He added, “We all feel called to the forthcoming events, commemorating various local connections to the 1911 bold measure, which created Portugal’s first Tourism Office.”
Mr. Patrao went on replying directly to the 11 proposals submitted by the Congress. About the Tourism Research Agenda, he recalled the “Tourism 2015 Program” with similar purposes. About proposal 5, he said TP has received a few international awards for facilitating procedures and eliminating bureaucracy and that the government has classified tourism as a strategic axis of development, having established priorities for public and private investments.
Regarding the university proposals 1, 2, 3, and 9, he explained: “TP manages a total of 16 tourism schools and 2 faculties (Estoril and Algarve), with over 3,000 students and where over 1,000 professionals receive every year advanced tuition about the main activities and trends related to the sector.” Mr. Patrao added, however, that it is necessary to study further implications about creating a network of Portuguese-speaking (lusophonic) research centers, whereas he promised to study the idea of the tourism museum. He is also committed to enhancing the Portuguese identity, considering the inputs of tourism to describe the main national customs throughout this last century, as well as to facilitate the research of expected effects of travel and tourism in the behavior of the next century’s generations, who will be the organizers of the 2nd centenary Congress in 2111.