A new tourism association has been created in Monchique to promote the municipality, having hosted a visit from the Chinese Ambassador to Portugal, Zhao Bentang, as its first main event on May 11.
The ambassador was accompanied by a delegation of diplomats, journalists, representatives from the Portuguese-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, lawyers and investors.
The visit began with a meeting at the town hall, followed by a trip to the Fóia peak – the highest mountain in the Algarve – and to the local handicraft association Associação de Artesanato.
Next up on the agenda was lunch at Jardim das Oliveiras restaurant and a visit to the Águas de Monchique water bottling plant, ending with a gathering of local entrepreneurs at olive oil press Lagar dos Pardieiros, where a wide range of local products were showcased.
The event was hailed a success by Marie-Anne Ferran from Turifoia, one of the founding companies behind the Monchique Tourism Association (Associação de Turismo de Monchique, or ATM).
“Our goal is to join forces and try to promote Monchique and everything that makes it unique,” she told the Resident, adding that similar events are in the pipeline for the future.
Other members so far include Bela Vista, Snowballstudio Photography, Casa da Lila, Luar da Fóia, Lagar dos Pardieiros, Alecrim, Vinha do Galo and Ceiceira.
The association is open to any local business or association interested in joining, with the main objective being to put Monchique on the map as one of the Algarve’s best places to visit and invest.
As the association points out, Monchique is home to some unique products from its olive oil, citrus fruit, medronho firewater, honey and sausages to its famous hot springs and thermal water.
The association believes that it can help “improve the quality” of local products, “elevate the industry and stimulate business” and “promote the need for better infrastructures” to bolster the tourism sector in Monchique.
It adds that “combining forces is key for the Monchique economy”.
Regarding the visit of the Chinese ambassador, the association revealed that one of its goals is to “strengthen the cultural and economic ties between China and Monchique and explore opportunities for collaboration”.
“The ATM would like to express our gratitude for the ambassador’s and delegation’s time and consideration. We would like to reiterate that the ATM is committed to fostering positive relationships with the Chinese community.
“Monchique’s doors are open to welcome not only Chinese visitors, but also investments such as in new hotels and purchasing our water, olive oils, sausages, medronho, wine, honey, and much more,” the association added.
Albufeira and Lagos also part of tour
The Chinese Ambassador’s tour of the Algarve also included two further stops: Albufeira (May 12) and Lagos (May 13).
Albufeira mayor José Carlos Rolo spoke of the opportunities that this visit could bring to the municipality.
“Albufeira is a town that depends over 90% on tourism. We are used to welcoming people from all parts of the world, whether it is due to leisure, business or institutional visits such as these, but we are aware that we need to diversify the basis of our economic activity,” he said.
“Naturally, we are open to foreign investment, and simultaneously increasing our exports,” the mayor added, stating that there is room to grow in terms of energy, climate change, technology and matters relating to water supply.
Carlos Rolo also said that the borough is “available to cooperate with China in areas such as science, education, sports and agriculture, among others.”
Meanwhile, the ambassador stressed that the bilateral relationship between China and Portugal is “excellent”, and that Portugal is considered a “strategic partner” for China.
“In the current context of the world economy, the strengthening of bilateral relations between Portugal and China makes sense,” Zhao Bentang said.
“China has a new paradigm of development based on quality, innovation, high technology, green energy and qualified resources, and China and Portugal share the same concept and development goals, which is why we can improve synergies between both countries in benefit of their respective populations.”