Historic centre facelift to boost business

Major improvement work to make the historic centre of Vila Real de Santo António more appealing to shoppers, residents and visitors is being carried out at a cost of €1.5 million.

Works started in April and are being funded through the Turismo de Portugal’s ‘Jessica’ programme, which includes EU funding. The project has led to the creation of a new image for the city under the slogan ‘VRSA a Céu Aberto’ (VRSA under the Open Sky).

“The needs of each establishment have been considered and all sectors – commercial, tourism, heritage and culture – are covered by the project,” stated VRSA municipal authority in a press release.

But the great beneficiaries of this project are businesses, as most of the funds are being used to improve the exterior appearance of shops and restaurants, with canopies, display racks, promotional material, outdoor furniture and sun umbrellas following standardised designs and formats to fit in with the architectural and visual identity of the historic centre.

The colours theme chosen, blue and white, has taken inspiration from the River Guadiana and the coastline.

The old customs building (Alfândega) has also been refurbished to prevent further degradation, the obelisk and church have had new lighting installed to enhance its features and electrical cables are being hidden to ensure more pleasant views of the streets. New information signs to help tourists find their bearings have also been installed.

Mayor Luís Gomes says the historic centre redevelopment project represents one of the biggest investments ever made in the area to support local businesses.