With a Ph.D. in regional and urban planning, Nuno Fazenda took on the role of Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce, and Services about a year ago. Shortly after Portugal received the award for Best European Destination at the latest World Travel Awards, Secretary of State discusses with F Luxury the significance of this and other awards, emphasizing sustainable tourism that spans the entire country.
What does the recent achievement of World Travel Awards mean for Portugal?
Winning twenty-two awards at the latest European edition of the World Travel Awards, often dubbed the Oscars of tourism, is international recognition of the excellence of Portuguese tourism in various dimensions. Portugal was once again named the best European destination, highlighting the national tourism’s excellence. Various companies, institutions, and professionals in the sector, whom I want to congratulate, were also awarded, celebrating the success of the entire country.
Portugal has also received awards from the World Tourism Organization.
Yes, Portugal was recognized by the World Tourism Organization with awards under the Best Tourism Village category, honoring Ericeira, Madalena in Pico Island, Manteigas, and Sortelha. This international recognition certifies the sustainability, authenticity, and historical value of these localities, highlighting the excellence of tourism in the country’s interior. These awards serve as motivation and responsibility for us to continue ensuring the sustainability and authenticity of Portugal as a global tourism destination.
Have you observed the growth of tourism in Portugal? Is it sustainable, and is there room for more visitors?
Portugal has experienced sustainable tourism growth over the years, becoming a competitive international destination recognized for its authenticity and sustainability. In 2023, global tourism demand is expected to be between 85% and 90%, but Portugal has already exceeded these expectations. We’ve recorded the best eight months in tourism history, and 2023 promises to be the best year ever. Our goal is to continue growing sustainably and authentically, promoting tourism throughout the country year-round, while ensuring the sustainable development of established destinations such as the Algarve, Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira.
Will the interior of the country also be promoted in this endeavor?
Certainly, it must be. That’s why we created an Interior Tourism Agenda aimed at promoting this territory, investing in businesses, training professionals, and showcasing its offerings. This will be an ongoing process, through which we intend for tourism in the interior to be a driving force for development and territorial cohesion. We want Portugal to be a country worth visiting throughout all seasons.
Our archipelagos, especially the Azores, have been receiving more tourists.
The Azores archipelago is one of the gems of national tourism, known for its excellent nature tourism, authenticity, and hospitality, which is characteristic of the entire country. The Azores play a vital role in national tourism and represent an icon in international nature tourism. Madeira is a symbol of our tourism, historically being an excellent tourist destination and will continue to be so in the future. The uniqueness of certain localities, their festivals, and Porto Santo are significant attractions.
What challenges is tourism currently facing or will face?
The tourism sector faces significant challenges, including the need to promote territorial cohesion, ensure sustainability, and enhance the qualification and valorization of professionals in the sector. We also need to innovate in tourism offerings and combat seasonality by promoting tourism year-round and nationwide.
Nearly thirty years after the “vá para fora cá dentro” (go abroad by staying in the country) campaign, has the result been positive?
Domestic tourism is crucial both in our country and in major tourist destinations worldwide, such as the USA, Spain, and France. For our country, it plays a fundamental role, and Portugal has been investing in this segment. In the last year, we have noticed significant growth. Stimulating domestic tourism demand is crucial, which is why we promote campaigns to encourage Portuguese people to explore every corner of the country.
How did you feel when you learned you would be responsible for the tourism sector?
I felt deeply honored by the opportunity given to me to serve my country in such an important sector as tourism, commerce, and services. It’s also a tremendous responsibility to be able to contribute my best to a sector so crucial to our country, which is tourism.
What is your favorite place in Portugal?
That’s a difficult question because Portugal offers a wealth of incredible destinations. The Algarve is one of my favorite destinations for sun and sea; I have an emotional connection with this region because part of my academic life was spent here. I worked in the North, so Porto, Douro, and Minho are regions I highly value; they are beautiful. Being from Covilhã, I see Serra da Estrela as one of the most beautiful regions in the country. Working in Lisbon makes me appreciate the city, recognizing that we have one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. In the Alentejo, I highlight Alqueva with the largest artificial lake in Europe. However, my recommendation is for Portuguese people to explore different regions since we have immense diversity in terms of heritage, culture, nature, gastronomy, and wines. It’s difficult for me to choose just one place.