Short-sighted Portugal

Dear Editor,

Turismo de Portugal recently launched its ‘West Coast of Europe’ campaign, but its marketing strategy is still too short sighted – over dependent on traditional markets, like the UK, and completely ignoring new ones, like Asia.

Ireland has tourist offices across Asia, in China, India, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, but Portugal has only one, in Japan – in fact, the only one anywhere outside Europe and North America.

Don’t the Portuguese want to attract all these increasingly affluent people to come and spend money in their country? Or are they trying to make it as awkward to get to Portugal as possible?

Having only ever briefly flown to Asia, ‘para o inglês ver’, TAP Portugal tells us that it has a codeshare with Thai Airways. But you can’t book a flight between Lisbon and Bangkok on either airlines’ website.

Bizarrely, you can book Thai flights between Bangkok and Madrid, which involve taking a TAP flight from Frankfurt to Lisbon, and from there to Madrid! As for TAP’s codeshare with Lufthansa to Hong Kong, there can often be a wait in transit of up to 14 hours.

Why doesn’t TAP codeshare with Turkish Airlines instead, which recently joined the Star Alliance, and has cheaper and faster routes to Asia via Istanbul? In return, Turkish could codeshare with TAP on flights to South America via Lisbon.

The Portuguese always go on about their Asian empire in the 16th century, but that was then, not now. If they want to be taken seriously in East Timor or Macau, they need to be taken seriously in Asia, and in order to do that, they need to take Asia seriously.

Turismo de Portugal’s new campaign bemoans other people’s prejudices and stereotypes of Portugal, but what about Portugal’s ones of others?

Ken Westmoreland


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