Douro developed

The Douro Valley Investment programme (TVD) is being developed as a major economic policy measure for the future of tourism, says Economy Minister Carlos Tavares. Plans to improve tourism in the northern river valley, ranging 100kms on both banks of the Douro, will cover areas stretching from Gerês, Viseu and Aveiro through to Spain. The aim is to develop the region as a high quality tourism alternative to the Algarve, Lisbon, Estoril and Madeira. But the minister said there was no intention of introducing mass tourism to the region. The Portuguese Investment Agency (API) is to focus on developing resources such as transport, health and fully trained staff in the Douro and on attracting local and foreign tourism investors. The current number of Douro overnight stays sold remains low. In total, there were 970,000 overnight stays in 2002, of which 80 per cent were to Portuguese visitors – the equivalent of 2.9 per cent of the total number of overnights sold nationwide. The average visitor stay is 1.6 days, according to the API, but market research shows the potential Douro Valley visitor market is 140 million euros, with particular interest from Germany, UK, US, the Netherlands, Spain and France, or more than 100 million tourists overall.