Almargem helps Monchique businesses attract hikers and outdoor enthusiasts

Environmental association Almargem is launching a training programme to help tourism companies in Monchique to promote the borough as a top destination for hiking enthusiasts.

The programme, entitled ‘Preparar Monchique para o Produto Walking’ (loosely translated as ‘Preparing Monchique for Walking Tourism’), is aimed at hotels and other accommodation units as well as tourism leisure companies. It will begin with a series of free online sessions aimed at businesses looking to attract tourists to the hiking trails of Monchique.

Local business owners will hopefully be better equipped with the knowledge they need to cater to hiking travellers from markets such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Belgium.

The first online session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23 at 11pm on Zoom. Among the speakers will be Algarve tourism boss João Fernandes, Anabela Santos from Almargem, Luís Coelho from A2Z Tourism Consulting and Inês Almeida Garrett, Dagmar Paul and João Rodeia from national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal.

Companies interested in signing up for the programme must register before March 26. Spaces are limited to just 20 accommodation units and 10 leisure companies.

Almargem is the association that manages Via Algarviana, a 300-km long trail covering 11 municipalities in the Algarve (Alcoutim, Aljezur, Castro Marim, Tavira, S. Brás de Alportel, Loulé, Silves, Monchique, Lagos, Portimão and Vila do Bispo).

It is viewed by many as the crown jewel of the Algarve’s hiking trails, allowing hikers to walk all the way from Sagres in the Western Algarve to Alcoutim in the Eastern Algarve.

Monchique is one of the most popular locations along the trail, thanks to its many challenging climbs and stunning views which attract hikers from all over.

The training programme is part of the ‘Revitalizar Monchique – o turismo como catalizador’ (Revitalising Monchique – tourism as a catalyst) project, launched to help Monchique ‘get back on its feet’ after the devastating wildfire that broke out in the area in the summer of 2018. The blaze destroyed thousands of hectares of forest area and came dangerously close to the town.

Its goals are to recover hiking and cycling trails that were destroyed by the wildfire, create new ones, organise workshops for tourism entrepreneurs and carry out many other initiatives to help Monchique not only return to normal but “become an even more attractive destination than before”.

Some of the goals have already been achieved. Volunteers have already helped fix some of the signposting on sector 10 of the Via Algarviana between Picota and Foz dos Barreiro. Meanwhile, five new trails are due to be completed in Monchique before the end of the year.

For more information, visit www.viaalgarviana.org

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com