DURING A recent visit to the region, the EU Commissioner for regional policies, Danuta Hübner, said the Algarve must close the gap between the coastal and interior areas, diversify its tourism offer and focus on other industries.

Danuta Hübner was invited last week by Portugal’s environment and regional development minister, Francisco Correia, and the President of the regional development commission (CCDR), João Faria.

During her visit to several establishments, including Faro’s municipal theatre, Danuta Hübner said that aside from the importance of tourism, the region must diversify its economic activities and focus on small and medium sized businesses, making them more open to the international market.

“You must think outside of the Algarve and the local markets, but it is also important to support businesses that are fixed in the region,” she said, adding: “From what I have seen, this has been made difficult because of the high price of land, which has been inflated because of tourism.”

The EU commissioner also highlighted the importance of the University of the Algarve in the region.

“There are more and more people with higher education in the Algarve and I do not think that the coastal area can support more tourism. We should think about innovation and raise the university’s importance within the areas of water and marine resources.”