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Lisbon hotels up in arms over “political decision” to drop strategic plan for Belém

A vitriolic battle has followed culture minister João Soares’ decision to drop the strategic plan for Belém, and sack its architect António Lamas from his top job at the historic venue’s cultural centre (CCB).

Directors of the Tivoli, Altis and Vila Galé chains have all gone as far as threatening to cut investments over what they see as “purely political decision-making”, writes Diário de Notícias, while a 5,000-strong petition has been amassed with lightening speed to demand Soares’ removal from his job at the culture ministry altogether.

With hotel bosses saying Belém runs the risk of stagnation without a plan, petitioners say Lamas has been doing a sterling job and there are no clear reasons to support his removal.

For the time being, Soares seems to be in ‘hiding’ – certainly as far as this issue is concerned.

He has already dubbed Lamas’ plan “complete nonsense” and told the house earlier this week that if Lamas did not leave his job voluntarily, he would forcibly remove him.

The onus now is on prime minister António Costa to settle the matter.

Hoteliers’ rumblings about cutting investment will be the first item on the agenda – as Costa said only this week (at the BTL tourism fair) that private investment is vital to power the national economy.

It has to be said that João Soares’ appointment as culture minister was one of the surprises of Portugal’s new Socialist government.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com