Portugal under attack for failure to speak with BBC.jpg

Portugal under attack for failure to speak with BBC

By INÊS LOPES [email protected]

A BBC News report slammed the Portuguese and Spanish tourism boards for being unavailable to speak to the press at this month’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

Business reporter Will Smale who attended the fair on press day, says tourism representatives from eurozone countries, including Portugal and Spain, were reluctant to talk to journalists.

He claims representatives at the Turismo de Portugal stand had said “no one” was allowed to speak to the press and representatives at the Spanish Tourist Institute had said there was no one available for “one-to-one” interviews.

The WTM is regarded by tourism officials across the globe as one of the most important fairs in which to promote tourism destinations.

The Algarve Resident contacted Turismo de Portugal for a comment about the BBC report. A source said: “We have read the report and it is very likely that there has been a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter.

“It could have been that the staff at the stand had been instructed not to speak to the press as they were not working directly for the President’s office and had not been appointed for that purpose.”

The source added that the Secretary of State for Tourism, Bernardo Trindade, and the President of Turismo de Portugal, Luís Patrão, had visited the WTM, which took place from November 8 to 11, and had spoken to the press.

“The UK is one of the most important external markets for us,” the source said. “The BBC reporter could have contacted our press office and we would have answered his questions.”

The BBC report continued by saying that there was a “dark cloud” hanging over representatives from Western European countries due to the Euro and Pound being almost the same value.

Algarve tourism chief Nuno Aires told the Algarve Resident that the region’s tourism sector depended heavily on the foreign markets (representing 72 per cent of overnight stays in 2009), particularly the United Kingdom.

“The international economic crisis and the weakening of the Pound have certainly had an impact on the region’s overall tourism performance,” he said. Nuno Aires actually spoke to the BBC reporter at the fair, on behalf of the Algarve’s tourism board, and shared the same concerns.

As a further nail in the coffin for Portugal’s tourism industry, Will Smale’s report highlighted the fact that countries such as Croatia and Bulgaria were offering more competitive prices for British holidaymakers than the until now popular destinations of Portugal and Spain.

In recent weeks, the Algarve Tourism Board, in association with the Algarve Tourism Association, has been running a series of promotional campaigns abroad, with the latest being directed mainly at the British and Irish markets.

Entitled 007 – From the Algarve with Love, the new campaign runs until February 2011 and is being launched in conjunction with hotels and golf courses in the region.

Nuno Aires said: “In the first quarter of 2011, we hope to launch another campaign in the UK in partnership with tourism operators and directed at the British consumer, in anticipation of the summer season.”

Recent campaigns to promote the region aboard have also included a video entitled Algarve – Europe’s Most Famous Secret which aims to appeal to those wishing to discover the region’s traditions, culture, nature and people. The video was shown at the WTM as well as at a recent press conference in Madrid.

Referring to the threat of competitive markets in Eastern Europe, Nuno Aires said that this has led to greater promotional efforts and focus on other tourism products other than the ‘sun and beach’ product.

The golf season is now upon us and the Algarve’s golf calendar offers a vast programme of tournaments for the upcoming months.

“Our golf courses are recognised for their superior quality and the region has already been elected ‘Best Golf Destination in the World’ twice by the International Golf Tour Operator Association,” said Nuno Aires.

The event did seem to have some good news for Portugal, however. The country received the Best Stand award from a total of 187 countries participating.

The national tourism board stand focused mainly on the country’s gastronomy, particularly fish, and wine.

A spokesman told the Algarve Resident: “This award shows recognition for the work Portugal has done promoting its tourist offer.”