By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]
Members of the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce visited Azambuja last week to see what the district offered in terms of business opportunities.
Azambuja, situated near Lisbon in the fertile Ribatejo rural garden of Portugal known as Lezíria do Tejo, occupies a strategic crossroads between the north and south of Portugal and has excellent road and rail infrastructure links to both Lisbon and Porto and the rest of Portugal.
Joaquim Ramos, the President of the Câmara, explained how Azambuja, because of the flat nature of its surrounding land, was an ideal location to site factories, plants, businesses and light industry on and near the town’s vibrant and thriving retail parks.
He also said the town aimed to attract a different type of rural tourism from the usual sun, sea and sand tourism so far exploited in Portugal.
At present, tourism generates less than one per cent of turnover and three per cent of employment locally, but with the Câmara’s intention to invest in horse riding, wine-culture and nature tourism, this is set to change.
Azambuja does have a lot to offer for a few quiet days away from the hustle and bustle of the city or the crowded tourist resorts in the Algarve and Estoril coasts.
Firstly, it is on the edge of the extensive River Tejo EU protected wetlands which offer interesting country walks, bird spotting opportunities, boating and horse riding.
It also has a few interesting monuments including a ruined Roman hilltop fort in Vila Nova de São Pedro, an early Copper Age fortified settlement, the ruined Palace of Manique de Intendente and Virtudes Monastery.
Losing the bid for nearby Ota as a site for Lisbon’s new international airport may have been a temporary setback, but now the Câmara plans to capitalise on its relative nearness to the alternative site at Alcochete and the road and rail network that will grow up around it.
Azambuja also offers other potential attractions for developers and investors, with 1,147 hectares of industrial areas available and a range of available tax benefits and incentives through the local Câmara.
The party had the chance to sample some of the local gastronomic delights, wines, cold meats and cheeses when it stopped off for lunch at Adolfo Henriques adega and restaurant, Granja dos Moinhos in the vineyard and market gardening village of Maçussa.