by CHRIS GRAEME
The recession is starting to bite, keeping many European tourists, particularly the British and Irish, away from Portugal this year.
To face the economic downturn, Portuguese tourist agencies, hotel groups and câmaras are not only slashing prices and stepping up advertising campaigns abroad, they are also widening the choice of holidays on offer to cater for all tastes, focusing on the Portuguese who are staying at home this year and the foreigners who fancy a change from the beach.
This was the message received by visitors to this year’s Lisbon Tourism Fair (BTL), held last week at the Parque das Nações’s exhibitions centre FIL.
Two destinations making that extra special effort to attract nationals and foreigners alike with big and off-the-wall advertising campaigns are the Azores and Madeira islands which are focusing on the great outdoors, local history and culture.
“It can’t just be about sun and sea anymore. We’ve got too many competitors doing the same all over the world. People are more demanding now. The destination is no longer important just in itself; it’s now about the total experience, living the local life absorbing the local colours, sounds, tastes and culture,” BTL director Miguel Comporta told the Algarve Resident.
“This year we have implemented various new initiatives at the fair, such as ‘BTL Business’ which was a professional event for the first two days of the fair, when we invited foreign guests,” he said.
BTL also invited all of Portugal’s regions to participate and show off the best they have to offer in terms of tourism. As part of this initiative, there was dancing, food tasting, music and promotional films aimed at introducing the variety on offer in each specific region and town in Portugal.
On an international level, BTL had representations from over 40 different destinations, some of them new such as Mongolia, Japan and Armenia.
“It will be a tough and challenging year but there are opportunities and business for those who offer choice and diversity at a competitive price,” said Miguel Comporta.
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