To fully comprehend Europes history
and heritage, visiting Portugal is a must. The
development of Portugals cultural tourism
potential forms part of government plans to
expand the countrys tourism offer, an
initiative that lies at the heart of a new sector
strategy designed in 2005. First stop for the
Ministry of Culture Lisbon, where the
citys business tourism is soon to be boosted
by an enhanced cultural offer.
We have to be prepared to offer tourists
some added value since more than half who visit
Lisbon do not come for a sun and sea holiday,
states Isabel Pires de Lima, Minister of Culture.
A substantial number are people who come
for conferences and business meetings, and I
believe cultural tourism holds great interest
for this type of tourist. Plans include
revitalizing the historic neighborhood of Belem,
with a new building to house the Horse Carriage
Museum next to an 18th century paddock in Belem
Palace. Next door is the Royal Equestrian School,
where shows featuring the beautiful Portuguese-bred
Lusitanian horses will be held.
Further initiatives include developing a clearer
cultural tourism circuit in the city that takes
in its numerous monuments. Also, a new Discoveries
Interpretation Center will use the latest media
techniques to explain the routes taken by Portuguese
merchants and explorers throughout the Middle
Ages. The minister adds, We want to transform
Lisbon into a city that offers a lot of culture.
One of the problems that tourists encounter
when they arrive in Lisbon is that they dont
know where to go in order to fully enjoy and
capture the Portuguese cultural experience.
In the age of low-cost flights, Mrs. Pires
de Lima believes that Portugal can no longer
rely solely on its beaches to attract tourists.
It is absolutely essential to fully understand
the tourism sectors full potential and
not only focus on capitalizing on the sun and
sea aspect of it. Nowadays, it is much cheaper
to fly to the Caribbean or Brazil than before
so we need to change our strategies in terms
of what we offer, she explains, adding
that cultural tourism also involves rural tourism
and the promotion of non-traditional tourism
centers a sector that the government
is now working to develop.
Minister of Economy Manuel Pinho elaborates:
We have a very clear policy regarding
tourism and our main objective is to develop
new areas from scratch. It is an exciting plan
since it will be the first time in two decades
that new tourism areas are built up and they
will be primarily targeting higher-end tourism.
He says that new areas under development include
the traditional region of Alentejo, the natural
lake area of Alqueva, and the island of Porto
Santo near Madeira. International promotional
campaigns have been launched to ensure the world
knows about Portugals new higher-end tourism
Regional development from the Ministry of
Culture include a museum in the Douro Valley
that will showcase the northern regions
port wine production and another in the Coa
Valley, where significant Paleolithic archaeological
findings were made at the end of 1990s. Mrs.
Pires de Lima comments, This project will
contribute greatly to the region. The Coa Valley
can indeed become the archaeological destination
on the Iberian Peninsula.