PRESIDENT OF the Regional Tourist Board (RTA), Hélder Martins, is facing accusations of having “a lack of political ethics” with regard to his decision to take a month’s leave from his position to focus on his personal life.
On April 12, it was announced that the executive commission of the RTA had granted Martins a one month suspension from his duties “for personal reasons”. According to ObservatóriodoAlgarve.com, the following day, reports surfaced that Martins would be appointed the new commercial director of the Carlos Saraiva Group in Portimão, however, Martins has strongly denied these rumours.
“I am trying to concentrate on my life,” said Martins. “When my time with the RTA comes to an end, I will have to find work somewhere else.” He has admitted attending a lunch hosted by the Carlos Saraiva Group the day after he announced his month’s leave but has stated that it was merely a business lunch among friends and emphasised that he has not been employed by the Carlos Saraiva Group. The company own the São Rafael resort and the Salgados golf club in Albufeira, as well as the Herdade do Morgado do Reguengo in Portimão.
Portimão Câmara President and member of the Algarve Regional Tourism Commission, Manuel da Luz, described Martins as having “a lack of political ethics” in his behaviour, considering that he is in an elected post. He also added further controversy to the decision by hinting that the month suspension might not be legally valid.
Manuel da Luz pointed out that the RTA president and the executive commission are elected by the Regional Tourism Commission which brings together the local authorities, representatives of decentralised government bodies in the region and business associations, and it is only this body that can take such a decision.
In response, Martins has said that he consulted his legal team when making the decision and “was informed that the situation was legal”, therefore has no reason to doubt the validity of taking leave.
The spokesman for the Secretary of State for Tourism has said that the statutes are currently being studied and a statement would be released as soon as conclusions had been made.
The Resident spoke with a technician from the RTA who revealed that in Martins’ absence, José Dias would be taking charge of the president’s role. The source revealed that the decision of Martins to take leave at this time would not have a negative impact on the workings of the RTA. “All the important tourism fairs and events have been dealt with and there are no vital roles for the president to play in the coming months,” he said. “The RTA is functioning as normal, we have someone in charge and there are no problems.”
Both Dias and Martins were present at a tourist seminar in Lisbon on April 17, however, Martins has since begun his 30 day leave period and will resume his position on June 2.
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