By: Ruth Sharpe
MANUEL PINHO, Minister for the Economy and Innovation, visited the new Hilton Vilamoura, As Cascatas Golf Resort and Spa, on Tuesday, May 22, to speak with the press and invited guests about the government’s future plans for tourism in the Algarve.
Pinho told those in attendance of the government’s plans to double the amount of five star hotels in the Algarve within the next five years. There are already 10 five star developments in the Algarve meaning that by 2012 there could be more than 20.
The minister’s visit was the first time the press had been granted access into the new Hilton development, nestled between two golf courses (Pinhal and Old Course) in Vilamoura.
The 75 million euro tourist development will open to the public in July but will not be officially inaugurated until September 1. The resort covers an area of 40,000sqm and is divided into four sectors: the Hotel, the Vacation Club, Tourist Apartments and the Spa. More than 400 jobs will be created, spread throughout these four sectors.
The hotel hass 154 bedrooms, 141 of these are luxury, with an additional 69 Vacation Club apartments. The 2,000sqm 7 Spa, As Cascatas will be the biggest Spa in Portugal and is being advertised as one of the largest in the Iberian Peninsula.
The hotel is the first Hilton to be built in Portugal. Alessandro Cabella, director of the hotel, announced that a 55 per cent occupation rate has been targeted in the first year. “It’s difficult to predict the initial volume of sales, seeing as there has been no predecessor in Portugal and we don’t know how the market will react,” said Cabella. So far, the British market has given the biggest response to the development and it is expected this trend will continue over the next few years.
Pinho spoke of the current healthy state of tourism in Portugal and revealed that this year’s tourist receipts are expected to be bigger than the levels experienced for the 1998 Expo and Euro 2004. “Last year was the best year yet for tourism in Portugal, but 2007 is going to be better,” he said.
Pinho described the Algarve as a “fantastic tourist area for Portugal and Europe”. “We have the facilities to offer so much more than just sun and beach. The government aims to invest heavily in increasing the amount of qualified human resources available and establish partnerships with international tourist schools,” said Pinho.
In August of this year, the government will announce initial plans for five more five star tourist developments in the Algarve.
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