Tourism board combats financial cuts

Although the Algarve Tourism Board (ERTA) is struggling to fulfil its duties of promoting the Algarve after two consecutive years of budget cuts from Turismo de Portugal, its President is confident that 2012 will be better.

António Pina, who says the financial situation “is worrying”, told the Algarve Resident: “We have money budgeted to pay staff wages until December. But we hope to have a healthier budget in the New Year.

“We have cut all possible promotional support for events and conferences as we are facing a situation of financial asphyxiation.”

ERTA had its core funding cut by Turismo de Portugal to €4.8 million in 2011 compared with the 2010 budget of €6.2 million.

“The biggest problem now is finding funding to meet the commitments we have made with private companies for external promotion of the region. For each Euro private companies invest for this purpose, we have to put in another Euro. This year those companies will be spending €1.2 million. We don’t have the money to match that,” he said.

António Pina added that ERTA has to find a solution for the future of the institution, even if it means having to apply for a short-term bank loan.

Criticising how ERTA is using its budget, the president of the Algarve hotels and tourist resorts association (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas, suggests the creation of a new tourism entity, based on a public-private partnership.

He told the Algarve Resident: “The ERTA model follows the tourism promotion system, which is exhausted. The institution as it is should be abolished to make way for lighter structures to operate in partnership with the private sector and companies especially aimed at promoting tourism in the region.”

He added: “Considering the recent budget cuts, it makes sense to rethink the way tourism is being promoted in the Algarve.”

Elidérico Viegas also criticised the ERTA’s Allgarve programme, which he says requires a large investment and “should have been extinct a long time ago as it simply does not promote tourism effectively neither here nor aboard”.

“So many Allgarve events go unnoticed by both residents and tourists…” he said.

Paulo Silvestre