By CHRIS GRAEME
A revolutionary way of discovering what to do and where to stay in the Algarve was unveiled this week at the annual Lisbon tourism fair, Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa (BTL), which runs between February 23 and 27.
This year, the Algarve’s tourism bureau Turismo do Algarve is going technological with a new multimedia, interactive webpage with photos, videos and all the latest news about the popular holiday destination.
Turismo do Algarve will also launch a promotions platform on Facebook where locals, holidaymakers and those in the hotel and catering trades can exchange views, news and tips on places to visit and things to do.
BTL, which opened on Wednesday in Lisbon’s Parque das Nações, is the most important annual tourism industry event in Portugal with stands representing all of Portugal’s regions including a large one dedicated solely to the Algarve.
This year the region’s tourism bureau will be plugging its latest campaign “The Algarve – Europe’s Best Kept Secret” (O Segredo Mais Famoso da Europa) on Facebook and other internet platforms with the aim of increasing the region’s visibility worldwide.
“We want to bring the region and its attractions closer to potential visitors using the internet and social networks which is all part of our Web Marketing Strategy,” says the President of Turismo do Algarve, Nuno Aires.
But using innovative technology doesn’t stop there: from February 24, the Algarve tourism bureau will be providing free applications for iPhone and Android terminals with heaps of useful information on where to eat out, what hotels and guest houses to stay in, where to shop and where to flop!
This will be made available by appstore.com.pt thanks to a €5,000 investment in which information can be surfed in English and Portuguese on mobile phones.
Users will also be able to access a ‘what’s on in the region’ guide for music, theatre, dance, concerts, festivals and exhibitions.
The initiative makes the Turismo do Algarve the first regional tourist bureau in Portugal to activate mobile phone applications, which will be available at the Algarve Stand, Apple Shops and on the Android market.
Among the events in the Algarve being highlighted at this year’s BTL is the 9th European Eno-gastronomy Congress in Albufeira (Wine Gastronomy) between November 4-6, which will involve nine countries and 700 participants.
Algarve cork products were also spotlighted at the Algarve stand on the 24th while today (Friday) attention is turning to the region’s wines and the presentation of the Algarve Spa Week with 10 five-star hotels taking part.
This year the Algarve stand, one of the biggest at the BTL fair, will have representatives from Albufeira, Loulé, Portimão, São Brás de Alportel, Lagoa, Vila do Bispo, Faro, Lagos, Tavira, Olhão and Alcoutim.
The BTL will also focus on a new niche holiday concept ‘The Roman Route’ which will have its own stand devoted to concept holidays in Portugal following in the footsteps of the country’s Roman heritage.
As to foreign destinations being showcased this year, Thailand is BTL’s special invited guest.
This year’s tourism fair could expect up to 70,000 visitors and 1,000 exhibitors from 45 countries and 1,400 tourism industry professionals.
What: BTL (Lisbon Tourism Fair)
Where: Parque das Nações, Lisbon (Metro: Oriente)
When: February 23-27
Tickets: €5 (Individuals, students and senior citizens) €10 professionals
Opening times (Professionals): Wed-Fri (10am-8pm), Friday (10am-11pm), Sat (Noon-11pm), Sun (Noon-8pm)
Opening times (Public): Fri (6pm-11pm), Sat (Noon-11pm), Sun (Noon-8pm)
For more information about BTL, please visit www.btl.fil.pt