Capital needs new international event within six years.jpg

Capital needs new international event within six years

TOURIST LEADERS have stressed the need to stage an international event in the capital by 2012.

The plan, advanced by the Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo (CCDR-LVT), the commission of co-ordination and regional development of Lisbon and Vale do Tejo, and the Associação de Turismo de Lisboa (ATL), the Lisbon tourism association, is part of a wider tourist strategy for Lisbon over the next 15 years.

A working document, still in its infancy, was presented last week at a conference entitled “Lisbon 2020 – What Strategy for the Future?”

Among the speakers were Fontão de Carvalho and Vítor Costa, president and director-general of ATL, Luís Correia da Silva, former Secretary of State for Tourism and administrator of TAP (Air Portugal), and Fonseca Ferreira, president of CCDR-LVT.

Vítor Costa believed that international events were integral to Lisbon’s future. In his address, he traced Lisbon’s progress – from its status as a European Culture Capital in 1994 through to Expo 98 and Euro 2004. He noted increased visitor numbers over the years, including golfers and short stay tourists. But he stressed that within five years there would have to be a major new initiative, preferably in the docks area, to maintain momentum.

Luís Correia da Silva cited the possibility of a Lisbon Spring and Summer Arts Festival and said the city had to maintain its competitive edge against other locations – such as Barcelona and Dublin – for mini-breaks. He said that the city should exploit its natural advantages of light and climate as well as its sense of security, charm and quality of life.

Among the other topics discussed was the proposed new airport at Ota, 50 kilometres from Lisbon. Fontão de Carvalho said the airport in question would have “an extremely negative impact and cause us to redefine our strategy”. He said it was vital to establish “a very rapid link to the capital” in order to avoid travellers being inconvenienced. Fonseca Ferreira believed that Ota could reap dividends, but agreed on the need to provide an effective transport link that could ferry arrivals into the capital within 25 minutes.