Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes highlights positive impact of Afro Nation festival on local economy
Since its debut in 2019, Afro Nation has become one of the biggest summer music festivals in the Algarve, attracting some of the world’s leading names from the Afrobeats, Hip-Hop, R&B, Dancehall and Afrohouse genres.
This third edition has been no different, with dozens of thousands of people of many nationalities travelling to Portimão to see their favourite artists. From Spanish, French, Nigerian and Israeli to American and Australian festivalgoers, people from all over the world come together at Praia da Rocha for the event.
While June is already a busy month in the Algarve, the festival has helped attract a previously unseen number of tourists to the town.
As Mayor Isilda Gomes puts it, Afro Nation has helped position Portimão as a “music festival destination” and has also helped attract a number of tourists in June which is usually only recorded in August, the peak of the tourist season in the region.
The town’s streets become filled with people from all over the world, which reflects positively on several sectors of the economy, the mayor said.
“These are festivalgoers with spending power,” Isilda Gomes told the Resident, stressing that they eat and drink at local restaurants and bars and fill up hotels across the region, particularly in the western Algarve.
The event provides a much-needed boost to the local economy, said the mayor, adding that local business owners are “delighted to welcome these tourists” who “feel at home in Praia da Rocha”.
Many choose to rent a car to travel around and dine in establishments that serve Portuguese cuisine, creating a sense of closeness to the country’s culture. According to the mayor, these tourists are “extremely respectful with the locals,” and their profile is described as “very interesting”.
Citing certified studies, Isilda Gomes said the festival had a direct impact of €114 million in 2022, with an attendance of 40,000 people from over 40 countries.
Headliners this year include Burna Boy, a Nigerian performer; 50 Cent, an American hip-hop artist; Wizkid, also a Nigerian singer and songwriter; and Booba, a French rapper. True to its reputation as the world’s largest afrobeats festival, the event also features Asake, Aya Nakamura, Fireboy DML, Black Sherrif, Vegedream, Oxladee Ms Banks, as well as Cape Verdean artist Nelson Freitas and Afro-Portuguese singer Soraia Ramos, showcasing a mix of English, French, and Portuguese languages.
While some local residents complain about the traffic woes that such a large influx of tourists creates, as well as the rubbish left behind, Isilda Gomes believes these issues are expected during these kinds of events but are dealt with. The mayor also believes that the ‘pros’ from the festival heavily outweigh the ‘cons’.
Unlike many municipalities that invest financially to host these kinds of music events, this is not the case in Portimão, where the event organisers are entirely responsible for all the logistics.
The town is also preparing to host Rolling Loud between July 5-7, an international Hip-Hop festival which attracted 55,000 people to Portimão last year and generated nearly €100 million for the local economy according to an independent consultant, Gomes said.
The success of these festivals has led the municipality to establish a protocol with the promoter of both events, guaranteeing that at least two major international events will continue taking place on the current dates until 2025, provided that“quality and safety are assured,” said the mayor.
By BEATRIZ MAIO