By CAROLINE CUNHA
AS THE current president of the Algarve Tourism Board announces he won’t stand again in the forthcoming RTA elections, a surprise candidate has been revealed.
HÉLDER MARTINS will continue as president of Região Turismo do Algarve (RTA) until June 2 when his mandate officially ends, despite his position hanging in the balance last week. In the meantime, the forthcoming elections to decide on a new Tourism Board president are already attracting controversy.
It’s now clear Hélder Martins will complete his mandate following the abandonment of the Executive Tourism Commission’s extraordinary meeting last Friday, May 18, due to insufficient numbers.
The meeting was called after Martins’ socialist political opponents claimed his one month off work was “unethical” and “probably illegal”. Martins announced he wouldn’t stand again and voluntarily suspended his own mandate for one month to deal with “personal matters”. Many believed he wouldn’t return, however he was back at work on May 9. The meeting was called to discuss his employment as president.
With the elections set for June 5, the Socialist Party made a surprise announcement last Friday, revealing its candidate is none other than Civil Governor of the Algarve, António Pina.
The Algarve Social Democrat Party then released a statement saying it was taking a “responsible position” and wanted to avoid a political war as it’s “not in the interests of the region”. It’s forming a coalition with the Socialist Party supporting Pina and will jointly announce candidates for the four director positions.
The Resident contacted António Pina. “I feel I can be more useful to the Algarve in this role than as Civil Governor. I want to help tourism in the Algarve,” he said.
Pina’s background lies in education, not in tourism, a fact being pointed out by his detractors. He was Regional Director of Education before representing the government in the Algarve. “I have lived in the Algarve all my life, I read and hear about tourism everyday and understand its importance for the region. The directors chosen will be from the tourism sector and individuals who are very technically competent.”
What about the Civil Governor position? “We are looking for my replacement and I must give the Minister for Internal Administration my nomination. If he agrees, that person will take office.”
Elidérico Viegas, President of AHETA, the Algarve Hotels and Resorts Association, told The Resident: “The RTA President should be somebody from the sector and should be run by tourism industry figures. Politics and agreements between parties should not be involved. This is unacceptable. It’s nothing more than an exercise to secure jobs for their boys and to maintain personal and political interests.”
AHETA will hold a meeting to form its own candidate list. “These will be experienced industry figures. We can’t win because they have the majority but we must appeal to the government so this situation cannot happen in the future when the new tourism board laws are published,” he said.
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