Pushing rural tourism development forward


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WITH THE Algarve coast rapidly becoming overdeveloped, the regional development commission (CCDR) is endeavouring to attract more tourists and businesses to inland areas.

In an effort to revitalise the Algarve’s inland towns and villages, the CCDR has announced that tourism will be the main focus for development plans over the next decade but, unlike previous years, CCDR is keen to move tourism away from the coast.

CCDR President, João Faria, told The Resident: “We want to revitalise the inland areas of the Algarve. They have suffered for many years at the hand of population migration towards the sea, where nearly all the development was taking place. Now we are encouraging businesses and developers to move inland.”

Green concerns

The announcement comes at a time that environmentalists are worried about the effect that development has been having on the Algarve coast and the speed that new resorts and developments are being constructed, which is highlighted in the Algarve’s development plan, PROTAL, which came into effect last year.

“The coast is not 100 per cent full but almost,” he said. “PROTAL has placed more rigid limits on coastal development and so it is necessary to focus on the inland areas of the region.”

He told The Resident that he was satisfied with the rural development so far and he was aware of an increasing number of companies choosing to base their offices in inland areas, like Alcoutim and Castro Marim.

Although these companies could benefit from community funds until 2013, Faria said CCDR would not directly allocate funds. Instead, companies could approach CCDR with a proposal to purchase equipment and help to subsidise infrastructural construction.

To drive tourism inland, part of the focus has been directed towards holidaymakers who are interested in nature, walking and being active outdoors. With the creation of the Via Algarviana, which is a 240-km pedestrian route across the Algarve, more tourists have been able to explore the inland areas.

This trend is expected to continue once the Ecovia route across the Algarve is complete in the next few months, especially directed towards active holidaymakers.

CCDR is working closely with many câmaras, especially in the inland areas, to promote fairs and festivals to tourists and residents.

However, Faria said he realises that CCDR faces an uphill battle to encourage economic and tourism development in the Algarve’s inland areas.

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