André Gomes has a law degree and has worked for five years as the director of the Centre of Promotion, Entertainment and Touristic Information at the Algarve Tourism Board (RTA).
André Gomes has announced his bid for the presidency of the Algarve Tourism Board (RTA) after current president João Fernandes confirmed in March that he will not be seeking to be re-elected in the institution’s upcoming elections in June.
“I confess that (running for president of RTA) was never in my plans,” André Gomes told Barlavento newspaper.
But following the “surprise announcement” that João Fernandes would not seek re-election, Gomes started receiving contacts from people in the tourism sector suggesting that he “might be a good candidate to continue the work that has been carried out”.
Gomes immediately discussed the idea with João Fernandes before contacting the entire electoral college of RTA, which features the Algarve’s 16 municipalities, 14 associations, two unions and a government representative in the form of the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR Algarve).
“Out of the 33 members, I have already spoken with 27. As a result of those contacts and given the support I have received, I can now state and confirm that I am a candidate for president of the RTA in the upcoming elections, which will take place in mid-June,” he said.
Despite his links to the Socialist Party (PS) – as well as being the son of Portimão mayor Isilda Gomes – André Gomes guarantees that he does not aim to run as a Socialist candidate.
“I am a candidate with very significant support from the entire sector, public and private. Throughout this process, I have spoken to people I didn’t even know, as well as people from other political backgrounds, completely different to those of PS, and it is with satisfaction that I realised that they do not see me as a Socialist or political candidate, but one (who is running for the post) based on my work in the sector,” he told Barlavento.
Having been involved in the work carried out in the last five years at RTA, the candidate for the top job at the tourism board describes his candidacy as one of “continuity”.
“I would not be coherent, having participated in the strategies to achieve these results, if I now said that things have not been done well. I had the joy and opportunity to participate in what has been done in the last five years. This is a project of continuity (…). That doesn’t mean that I can’t give it a different spin. If I am elected, I can be the first president to have worked at the RTA before taking on the role. I believe this will allow me to have a different attitude towards some situations.”
While some have criticised RTA for losing some of its influence in recent years, apart from participating in tourism fairs, André Gomes believes the work of the tourism board is vital.
“This entity has a very important role because it brings together the public and private sectors, which is something that no other (entity) does or can do. That is fundamental to obtain the results that we have,” he said.
André Gomes also said that “work carried out in the background” is not seen but brings together all the municipalities in the Algarve as well as all the players in the private sector. “There is no other entity in the region that can do what we do, on behalf of an activity that is so important and that we all recognise.”
Gomes also intends to take over as president of the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA), which is also currently led by João Fernandes, “unless the members of ATA decide against it”.
“It is a private association and members can decide its future and what path to take,” he said, stressing, however, that having the same president for both entities makes promoting the Algarve easier.
“There is an entity (RTA) which is a public entity and has jurisdiction in the national market and Spain, and then another entity (ATA) which promotes the region in other markets.
“Throughout the years, I have had many meetings in which I had to explain this. Having the same president (for both entities) makes the decision-making easier,” he said.
Other major goals for his presidency include continuing to diversify the Algarve’s tourism markets, increasing the region’s promotion abroad, strengthening touristic infrastructures, and continuing to promote a tourism industry that is “more responsible from an environmental and sustainable point of view”.
“A very important point for us is to promote long-duration tourism and health and well-being tourism to continue fighting seasonality. We will continue investing in the improvement of our services and in training our professionals and strengthening partnerships,” he concluded.
If all goes to plan, André Gomes will officially present his bid for RTA’s presidency on May 15 at the RTA auditorium in Faro.
Original interview by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper