The future of tourism discussed at forum.jpg

The future of tourism discussed at forum

By: NATASHA SMITH

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PRESERVATION AND conservation appeared to be the hot topics for sustainable management of tourism destinations at the sixth annual European Tourism Forum, which was held at the newly constructed Arade Pavilion on October 25 and 26.

Many ministers and policy makers, as well as people connected to the tourist industry from all over Europe, attended the conference, and from Portugal, key figures including Minister of Economy and innovation, Manuel Pinho, had many issues to discuss.

Pinho vowed not to allow Portugal to lose its cultural heritage through construction and development in the tourism industry. He said that one of the most fundamental aspects of tourism trends today was that many holidaymakers are looking for something different to the mundane summer beach holiday.

Helena Mak and António Pina from the Regional Tourism Board.
Helena Mak and António Pina from the Regional Tourism Board.

He said: “This is the time to hold on to our cultural heritage. It is part of us and it can be part of a tourism strategy”.

However, he said that there were many obstacles in the way. The pressures of development on natural resources could prejudice tourism. He also said that what was needed was unity between the local authorities in each region as well as a firm partnership between national and local governments.

Above all, he said that more should be done to conserve the nature of Portugal, expand cultural expression and develop biodiversity.

Excellence

What is needed on a European level is good management of natural areas, while EU rules should have an impact and be respected by small and larger entities, according to Cambridge educated Richard Denman, who is one of the directors of The Tourism Company, a UK-based tourism consultancy. European Commission Vice President, Gunter Verheugen, said “social equity and cohesion” were an important part of sustainable tourism and he praised the Portuguese government for its endeavours to bring tourists to central Portugal with the attraction of its natural resources and heritage.

With 12 per cent of all jobs in Europe in the tourism industry, it is becoming an increasingly important “key drivers” for future economic sustainability, according to Verheugen, who added that “only excellence will guarantee sustainability” in the tourism industry, which he believed was the future for the Algarve and Portugal.

As part of sustainability, the issue of alternative energy was raised as a key factor to facilitate this. The gauntlet was thrown down to Manuel Pinho when he was criticised for a lack of legislative emphasis on renewable energy from a member of the audience.

Energy

Pinho said that Portugal had the lowest target of CO2 emissions per person in Europe and was also in third place for the use of alternative energy. He added that renewable energy was part of the country’s policy, which he called “the overall most ambitious renewable policy”.

As a result of the free exchange of ideas and information at the tourism forum, the new European agenda for sustainability includes responsible entrepreneurship, the dissemination of knowledge and enhancing the visibility of the diversity of Europe on a world platform.

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