Portugal: What makes country ‘best destination’ will not be affected

Portugal’s “best and greatest assets”, the ones that distinguish the country as the best tourist destination in the world, for three consecutive years, will not be affected by Covid-19, said the secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques.

These assets – the landscape, the gastronomy, the people – will stay and last, Marques said in a statement to Lusa, by telephone, days away from participating in a debate organised jointly by Portuguese news agencies Lusa and Spanish Efe on the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector.

“Of course, for these assets to continue to be exploited in the future, we need to maintain jobs and preserve the productive capacity of companies,” she said.

This is what the government has been trying to do, she added, having identified at the very beginning of the pandemic the need to launch a package of measures and then later reinforced or renewed some of these measures. 

“So that, as soon as the recovery can happen, with strength, as we wish, I do not know if it is in the next days, in the next months, or next year, we have our productive capacity preserved and we can respond,” she said.

The recent restrictions by some states on travel to Portugal – such as the United Kingdom – have exacerbated an already difficult situation, she pointed out.

“Our projections for tourism activity are now more down-beat. A month ago, we had the prospect of a drop in activity of around 50% and we may be facing much higher value reductions at this time,” she said.

The impact of Covid-19 on tourism is the subject of the first debate organised jointly by the Lusa and Efe agencies, on Wednesday and Thursday, as part of the EURAGORA virtual forum, financed by the European Stars4Media pilot project, which aims to support innovation in the media sector through training and cross-border cooperation within the European Union.

The discussions – which will be broadcast via a joint online platform and the social networks of both agencies – are the result of an unprecedented partnership between Lusa and Efe and will bring together international organisations, European commissioners, ministers and regional and local officials from the two countries, and associations from the tourism and consumer sectors.

The approach to the topic is based on two major topics: “Security, what do consumers expect, how do industry, governments, the European Union respond? (Wednesday at 10 a.m. Lisbon) and “Reinvention and opportunities sun and beach/urban and cultural/rural tourism” (16 July at 10 a.m. Lisbon), both at https://www.youtube.com/user/AgenciaLusaTV; https://www.facebook.com/AgenciaLusa.