Portugal’s tourism sector is represented by Bernard Luis Amador Trindade who could easily be mistaken for a movie star, but it is his Mediterranean charm, business intelligence, and political savvy that makes him the perfect representative for a country noted for its beauty, casual way of life, excellent cuisine, and history. Born in Lisbon, his current address is Funchal, the capital of Madeira Island.
Coming from a hospitality, travel, and tourism family, Trindade has been associated with Banco Espirito Santo, the Regional Legislative Assembly of Madeira, and a leader in the Socialist Party since 2003. His move to tourism has been not so much as a step in a new direction, but rather an acknowledgement of his roots.
Did You Know
If you remember your 3rd and 4th grades history classes, you are likely to remember studying Portugal – the birthplace of Vasco Da Gamma (15th century), the Portuguese explorer who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East, and commander of the first ships to sail from Europe to India. It is also the home of Ferdinand Magellan (15th century), the maritime explorer who attempted to circumnavigate the earth. Portuguese Baruch Spinoza is considered Europe’s first modern philosopher (17th century). Current Portuguese stars include Jose Saramago (Nobel laureate novelist), Nelly Furtado (Grammy Award-winning Canadian singer of Portuguese ancestry), and Jose Manuel Barroso, the 12th President of the European Commission.
Tourism represents 6.5 percent of the country’s GDP, and companiesandmarkets.com determined that the Portuguese travel and tourism industry has been facing a tourism crises since 2009 (the global crisis began in 2008). The decrease in consumer purchasing power in Portugal and its most important tourist source markets, together with the consequent decline in demand levels, formed the basis for the slowdown.
The major target markets for tourism have been Portugal, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and France, while markets under development include Scandinavian countries, Italy, the United States, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Belgium.
According to Trindade, the focus of Portugal promotions will be on: city attractions, culture and geography, food and wine, health and wellness, MICE market, nature, nautical tourism, resorts, and sun/sand.
The National Strategic Plan for Tourism indicates that Portugal is seeking an annual growth rate of 5 percent with 20 million tourist visits by 2015. The areas contributing to growth will be Lisboa, Algarve, and Porto e Norte. It is anticipated that by 2015, tourism will represent 15 percent of the GDP and 15 percent of national employment. In a March, 2009 report, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) placed Portuguese tourism in 10th position (in terms of size) in the European Union and 6th in tourisms’ relative contribution to the national economy.
The cruise market is currently a good source of tourism-generated revenue for Portugal. Approximately 300 cruise ships visit Lisbon each year. Many travelers start and/or end their cruise in Portugal. In 2009, almost 90,000 visitors from the US visited Lisbon by ship surpassed only by the UK with 146,441. Cruise fans also come from the domestic market of Portugal (45,359), and the European Union including Italy (38,359), Germany (38,113), Spain (19, 277), and France (8,082). The industry is represented by Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, and Crystal who populate the three conveniently-located cruise terminals. Investors see a bright future for the cruise industry, having invested approximately US$10 billion in this sector.
A search for new markets has prompted the government and tourism officials from Algarve to develop the locale as a leading destination for tourists with disabilities and restricted mobility. The project includes adapting the region’s infrastructure to accommodate the disabled and training professionals in customer service so they are able to meet and respond to the unique needs of this market segment. It is estimated that “accessible tourism” could represent millions of Euros to the tourism economic sector. Currently Algarve has 41 accessible beaches and most have amphibian wheelchairs and crutches available for visitors.
In 2009, the biggest spenders to Portugal were visitors from the United Kingdom, France, and Spain; however, there has been a decline in these markets. As the traditional European markets for tourism have declined, new links are being formed. Most recently, the Israel Tourism Minister, Stas Misezhnikov, signed a tourism agreement with Bernardo Trindade that encourages tourism to both countries and recognizes the importance of tourism to world peace and understanding. The programs will focus on health tourism and information exchange. The Jewish/Portuguese connection started in the 12th century when the Kingdom of Portugal was formed and a number of Jewish communities already existed.
In 2004, China signed a tourism agreement signed with Portugal granting it Approved Destination Status (ADS). The link between Portugal and Macao dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese traders used Macao as a staging port, developed an official settlement, and then established the Portuguese municipal government. For the next 400 years, Macao was governed by Portugal. It was returned to the People’s Republic of China in 1999.
Crime, drugs, and rough roads means that there are clouds over the sunny Portugal beaches. Although reported offenses in Portugal remain at low levels, (compared to other developed countries), petty crime is visible and ranges from pickpockets and purse snatchers to auto break-ins. An outgrowth of Portugal as a destination for several thousand immigrants from diverse locations (i.e., Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Brazil) has been reflected in increased group violence, as well as financial crime and corruption. To help victims of crime, Portugal has an assistance program administered through APAV (Associacao Portuguesa de Apoio a Vitima).
Portugal has very liberal laws on drug possession, and since 2001, personal possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and LSD are not considered criminal; however, trafficking and possession of more than 10-days worth for personal use is punishable by jail time and fines.
Driving in Portugal requires considerable skill, as the country has one of the highest rates of automobile accidents and related fatalities in Europe. A combination of local driving habits, high speeds, and poorly-marked roads make driving a car risky business. Fines for traffic violations are substantial, and payment may be requested at the site of the incident.
From bike riding through northern Portugal, traveling along the peaceful roads of Paredes de Coura, to experiencing the traditions of rural areas where it is not uncommon to encounter wooden wheeled oxcarts; from watching farmers working fields with handheld ploughs, to the night life and shopping in Lisbon, Portugal is out to seduce new visitors to their Atlantic Ocean bordered country.
For additional information, contact: Portuguese National Tourism Office, 590 Fifth Ave., 4th Fl., New York, NY 10036; 800-767-8842, 646-723-0200, www.visitportugal.com .