Algarve promotes its natural assets at BTL

news: Algarve promotes its natural assets at BTL

By Paul Bernhardt [email protected]

Tour companies and organisations operating birdwatching tours in the Algarve will in future be able to apply for an official stamp of approval after the launch of a new certificate of quality control.

The Birdwatching Algarve Certificate will recognise the best tourism entities working in this niche market sector if they meet a set of criteria designed to enhance and promote the birding experience throughout the region.

The initiative was unveiled last week by the Algarve Tourism Board at Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa (BTL), Portugal’s annual international tourism exhibition which took place between February 27 and March 3 in Lisbon.

Any local tourism business offering birding-themed guided tours and accommodation, plus those selling equipment for the activity, can apply for the certificate by submitting their candidature to the tourist board. A list of requirements and regulations governing the award will be posted shortly at

The birdwatching certificate logo
The birdwatching certificate logo

In order to obtain the certificate, candidates will need to demonstrate expert knowledge of ornithology and proficiency in guiding birdwatching groups. Short courses in ecotourism will be offered and an exam will test overall awareness of the region’s biodiversity, among other prerequisites.

The initiative also encourages stronger links between companies offering birding and nature tours and hotels, travel agencies and specialist retail outlets.

The recipient of the first certificate is expected to be announced by the end of this year, after which they can display a special logo – a colourful bee-eater in flight – on their products and promotional material.

The 2013 edition of BTL, now in its 25th year, also saw the Algarve Tourism Board announce a comprehensive new Algarve nature tourism website,

Written in English and Portuguese, the site allows users to explore the region’s different landscapes, habitats and birdlife in a simple and navigable way: the homepage is effectively an interactive map divided into three distinct areas – central, Barlavento (west) and Sotavento (east).

In fact, the site is a virtual amalgamation of the tourism board’s four existing print titles that promote the Algarve’s outdoor leisure products – Birdwatching Guide, Walking Trails Guide, Secrets of Rural Algarve and the recently published Nature Tourism Guide (a particularly engaging and well-researched book).

Each page has a sub-section that can be opened for a full description of a walk, for example, or a particular species of bird. Furthermore, pages can be downloaded to a smartphone.

Written by experts in their field and illustrated throughout by eye-catching photography, the site is a welcome addition to the choice of online information options presently on offer.

The print version of the new Nature Tourism Guide is currently only available in Portuguese, but an English-language edition will be published shortly.

The new Algarve Pass
The new Algarve Pass

Algarve Pass

Also available later this year is another new product geared towards the tourist, the Algarve Pass.

Essentially a loyalty card, the Algarve Pass allows visitors to the area access to various points of interest, including museums and monuments, at discounted prices while accumulating points that can later be exchanged for regional products.

The Algarve Pass is issued through a partnership between the tourism board and the Associação do Comércio e Serviços da Região do Algarve (ACRAL), and as well as offering savings on a range of visitor attractions and activities, allows the cardholder to take advantage of a number of health, financial and security services. The card also facilitates access to a dedicated call centre in cases of emergency.

Visitors will be able to purchase the card at tourist offices throughout the Algarve and at other authorised sales outlets. A website is currently inviting those interested to subscribe free for more information.

The Algarve stand at this year’s BTL was situated in Pavilion 1 of the FIL exhibition hall at Parque das Nações and occupied 441sqm.

Sixteen regional municipalities were represented, as well as some of the region’s best-known hotels and resorts under the banner ‘Algarve Convida’. Trade delegates and international buyers were able to network and conduct business in an informal, open-plan environment during the first two days, after which the stand was opened to the general public.