In a bid to provide a “better experience” for visitors to the Ria Formosa park, the Algarve tourism board (RTA) has introduced new signposting and picnic areas at the Marim centre for environmental education.
The Centro de Educação Ambiental de Marim, or CEAM, now boasts new information panels, new signs directing visitors through the correct trails, and areas to sit and relax while enjoying a picnic.
This centre is located in Olhão and is the headquarters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It is also home to RIAS, the region’s only wildlife rehabilitation centre.
While the area is popular among nature lovers due to its natural beauty and vibrant wildlife, the regional tourism authority felt the centre could be “more appealing”.
Says RTA, the new information panels and signposting were created to “guide visitors along their hike through the natural park” and hopefully the new features will attract more people to the area – around 30,000 visit annually.
This was the latest step in the tourism board’s strategy to bolster nature tourism in the Algarve, a niche which it believes has “great potential to grow” – perhaps even more so now when more holidaymakers are looking for destinations where they can enjoy activities in the open air, away from crowded places.
Joaquim Castelão Rodrigues, regional director of the Algarve’s nature conservation and forest authority (DRCNF), believes the new equipment will also help conserve the protected species that can be found at the park.
The investment was carried out by RTA as part of the Valuetur project, a cross-border initiative with Spain which aims to renovate or breathe new life into the region’s “existing heritage”.
The tourism board is also working on several new brochures to promote the Southwestern Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park, the Ria Formosa Natural Park, and the Sapal Nature Reserve of Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António. They will be available in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French and will feature useful information such as maps and points of interest.
“Valuetur is another example of a successful cross-border collaboration,” says Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes.
“Through this project, we are able to strengthen our commitment to nature tourism, a product which is becoming more and more popular among national and foreign holidaymakers and which a few years ago accounted for 22 million annual holiday trips in Europe,” he adds.