Central Region: “2017 will be the best year ever for the tourist activity”
In the heart of Portugal, the Center is a region rich in history and heritage, natural landscapes that catch the eye, flavors that make mouth water and hospitable people who know how to receive. Diversity and authenticity are its greatest assets, says Pedro Machado, president of Turismo Centro de Portugal, who believes that this will be a year of great tourism success.
The Center affirms itself as “the largest and most diverse tourist region in the country”. What are the characteristics of this region that have allowed its affirmation?
The center of Portugal is the largest region of the country. It is a territory with 100 municipalities and 2.4 million citizens and that generates more than 250 million euros of direct revenues of the tourist activity. In such a vast territory, diversity and authenticity are its greatest assets. Those who visit the Center of Portugal can reconcile nature tourism with heritage, culture and religious tourism. This region has eight UNESCO seals. Four are World Heritage Sites – Coimbra, Batalha, Tomar and Alcobaça – but also has UNESCO seals in the natural heritage, cases of Geopark Naturtejo and Berlenga, and two creative cities of UNESCO, Óbidos Vila Literária and Idanha Cidade da Música. It is in the Center, in Fatima, that it is one of the greatest Marian Shrines in the world. This is one of the regions with the largest installed capacity in the thermal park, which today has evolved into spas and wellness. It is also a privileged area for practicing physical activities. We have more than 700 kilometers of walking routes. Do not forget that we have the best ocean coast in Europe for surfing, with the mythical giant waves of the Nazaré cannon, the supertubos of Peniche or the longest right wave in Europe in Buarcos. And there’s more, much more. The historic villages and shale villages. The Serra da Estrela, highest point of Continental Portugal, the only destination in the country where winter sports are practiced, but which has a special charm in other seasons. The ideal cities to meet in family, like Aveiro, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Guarda, Leiria or Viseu, just to mention the capitals of district. A rich gastronomy and wines of superior quality.
According to data released by INE, the number of guests in the region in February this year grew 11.49 percent. What is the reason for this growth?
It is a growth that is in line with that of more recent years. There are several factors that help to explain this growth, but let me highlight the main one: the increase in the quality of tourism in the Center of Portugal. The effort of companies and entrepreneurs associated with this activity has been constant in the attempt to improve the products they offer to visitors. The reflexes of this effort are visible in the numbers. A study produced by PwC for the Portuguese Tourism Confederation reveals that, in 2016, the Center of Portugal handled 270 million euros in hotels, 100 million euros in travel, 40 million euros in gaming/casino and 1000 million euros in catering and beverages.
Given such positive growth data, what are the expectations for the remainder of 2017?
Expectations are clearly the best. The Center of Portugal surpassed the five million overnight stays in 2016 and the first indicators we already have in relation to 2017 are that we can safely say that 2017 will be the best year ever for tourism in the region.