Bilingual publicity – too much trouble

Bilingual publicity – too much trouble

Dear Editor,

I was very disappointed that your correspondent Mr. West (September 17 edition, Letters section) had to defend himself for he was right about tourism and his critics (M.Gillham and T Winter, September 3 edition) were completely wrong; especially Mr Winter who does not even understand the EU let alone commercial needs. 

Since your billboards story, I have spoken to a number of restaurateurs. None had read your story, all were appalled by the council’s policy, all were Portuguese. If you want to advertise to Portuguese, you use Portugal’s tv/media network. If to expats/tourists, Algarve Resident or, especially in the golden triangle, billboards, in English mainly. In the UK, there are hundreds of media outlets, including tv, to advertise in Polish, Punjarbi or even Portuguese! Niche, commercial markets; business sense.  

There has been a lot about the internal market (Portuguese) increasing to make it a good summer. This view/feeling is misleading, for as one of those I spoke to said: “The Portuguese have no money.” A view supported by Faro University which showed that Portuguese tourists spend only a third of what foreign tourists do. There is little profit on a seven Euro Prato do Dia or a bica! We need foreign tourists, they spend more, visit more frequently and, especially the Germans, stay longer particularly in the winter. And our housing market will not recover until the British, mainly, start buying again.  

My wife visited Silves castle recently, after a large amount of money has been spent there; poorly sign posted/descriptions and almost all in Portuguese, yet my wife only heard English among the visitors; and they are used to a better presentation/details. (Yes, Mr. Winter, Mr West was right about the market being geared to Portuguese only).

My wife, in conversation, queried this, the answer “too much trouble”. Our competitors in, eg., Croatia (soon to be in the euro zone,) don’t have this attitude; he who pays the piper? And Silves is not the only one to ignore the English speaking market, which includes Dutch, Scandinavian, Irish and so on. Look at Albufeira and Portimao to mention only two examples.

This is business – we survive or not on our attitude to tourists/expats. Speaking to them, learning, meeting their expectations, and, with expats, involving them.

Perhaps  we could learn from the small town of Haworth in Yorkshire, where many B&Bs, and shops have signs in Japanese, part of their target market.

After all, most charities, Portuguese or not, rely on the foreign tourists/residents. To argue as M.Gilliam/T.Winter do that tourists like Mr West should stay away is madness; rather listen to them, learn, they are all our bread and butter, our survival.

D. Taylor-Smith