Tróia could snatch Algarve’s tourism crown

news: Tróia could snatch Algarve’s tourism crown

THE DEMOLITION of the two giant towers in Tróia last week symbolised the end of Torralta, a project from the 70s that was aimed at mass tourism – once advertised on TV as a “wonderful new world”.The development, however, ended in financial disaster, leaving many small investors to face ruin. But now it’s time for new beginnings and the site faces a much happier future thanks to the mega investment planned by the respected Sonae group.

The Tróia Peninsular is entering a new era and the aim is to move forward with sustainable tourism development, while preserving the rich natural environment in this protected area. The new 320 million euro tourism development from Sonae, along with planned investments in the area by the Pestana and Espírito Santo groups, is causing some to speculate that Tróia could provide fierce competition for the Algarve, Portugal’s most established tourist destination.

In total, 95 kilos of explosives were used to destroy the two 16 storey towers in an event that was over in just a matter of seconds. Extensive safety precautions and security measures were put in place to ensure the implosion passed off smoothly. Interestingly, Sonae apparently consulted with an English firm to provide advice on the most appropriate procedures for the hazardous job.

The spectacle drew large crowds and attracted a huge amount of publicity, not least because Portugal’s Prime Minister attended the event and obliged in activating a replica detonator – something he was apparently a little delayed in doing because, reportedly, the first tower (TO4) had begun falling when he actually pressed the

button! There was even a band playing some dramatic music by Vangelis and a rocket was launched 30 seconds before the explosives were activated to provide a signal that the all important moment was about to arrive.

Message of hope

After the explosion, all that was left was a pile of rubble and yellow dust that filled the air and was seen blowing in the wind towards Setúbal.

Following the spectacular, the event’s two key figures, president of Sonae, Belmiro de Azevedo, and PM José Sócrates left the 15th floor of the Torre Rosa Mar, a location that offered a privileged view of the proceedings.

“Your triumph and your success will be the triumph and success of all the Portuguese and of Portugal,” Sócrates is reported to have told the entrepreneur. The Prime Minister has also described Sonae’s proposed new development as a very important investment and a message of hope for the Portuguese economy.

Resort ready in six years

The completion of the Tróia resort project is foreseen for 2011 and will benefit the tourism of the boroughs of Alcácer do Sal, Grândola e Setúbal.

The development will provide jobs for 2,500 (directly employed) and indirectly create employment for a further 10,000 people. This will have a big impact on the local boroughs already named because they have been among the areas to suffer most from the country’s current unemployment problem.

Sonae Turismo, which will also be responsible for the management of the ferry service on the River Sado, will construct 1,031 tourist accommodation units: 185 houses, 297 cottages and 549 apartments. In total, more than 4,000 beds. As well as the real estate complex, a very large green zone is planned, providing a leisure and sports area.

Sonae Turismo also plans a considerable tourist leisure development that will include, among other facilities, a marina, restaurants, congress centre, hotel and a casino. Sonae Turismo is joining forces with the prominent Amorim Turismo and the two companies will draw on each other’s considerable experience to construct the congress centre.

Delays due to bureaucracy

However, it hasn’t been all smiles for the developer because this has been a long and drawn out process. Belmiro de Azevedo has explained that Sonae lost 70 to 80 per cent of the time waiting for decisions to be taken by the various ministers, in order for the project to be finalised.

It has taken eight years for the project to be finally given the go ahead and for the demolition to be realised. Belmiro de Azevedo emphasises that the delay in the project getting off the ground were down to “pure bureaucracy” of the successive governments. “There are not many entrepreneurs with the patience to wait for such a long time,” he warns.

Meanwhile, José Sócrates has commented that this is not only a good tourism project but a favourable project for the environment. “It is the first project of national interest to be considered by the current government,” he says.

More new resorts

As well as the major investments planned in Tróia, a further three resorts are also planned for the Alentejo, one in Comporta and two (Herdade do Pinheirinho and Costa Terra) in Melides, all of which come under the borough of Grândola.