Aljezur wants the University of the Algarve to study the surf market

Aljezur, along with the neighboring municipality of Vila do Bispo, has seen the surf market grow in recent years, […]

Aljezur, along with the neighboring municipality of Vila do Bispo, has seen the surf market grow in recent years, with the opening of schools, shops, hostels and other support services. Surfers seek the Costa Vicentina throughout the year, and come from other parts of Portugal, neighboring Spain, the rest of Europe and even the United States. It's a business that already moves a lot of people and a lot of money, but about which almost everything is unknown.

For this reason, the mayor of Aljezur last week took advantage of the Dean António Branco's visit to his council, to ask the University of the Algarve to «study the surfing product in our municipality».

"Surf has asserted itself, it is a very strong reality in the economy of Aljezur, but there are threats, there are problems, there are opportunities that are not properly studied and evaluated", said the mayor José Amarelinho, at a stop of the rectory committee next to the beach of Odeceis.

By the sea, debating the strategy for studying surfing

The importance of surfing in the municipality is such that recently the transport company Transol launched the «surf bus», which connects Portimão to Praia do Amado, passing through Lagos and other points, in order to bring more tourists, especially families, to what is the Mecca of the sport in Costa Vicentina.

The mayor of Aljezur explained that a «deep study» on surfing and everything that revolves around it will serve to «understand this important market», but, above all, «so that we can be more assertive in our surfing strategy».

"We need a technical study carried out by those who know", added José Amarelinho, guaranteeing that the Aljezur Chamber "will make available what is necessary" to researchers at the University of Algarve so that the work can advance.

The mayor pointed out that, due to its rapid growth and lack of rules, surfing is already causing some problems. «As in all issues related to the coast, there are many different entities that oversee surfing, especially here, where we still have the ICNF and the Natural Park. Then there are also antagonistic interests, for example between surfers and bathers, with regard to the placement of surf runners on the beaches. there are the surf camps which have appeared like mushrooms. It is not easy to mediate this whole set of interests», he said.

But the surfing niche, guarantees the president José Amarelinho, «is here all year and already generates a lot of money». If it were better structured, he adds, perhaps it would generate even more, because there are “opportunities” to be explored. "We therefore need a background document, a study, which shows us the threats, problems, opportunities, how many and which companies are linked to this market, what structures are still needed, and, above all, how much this market is worth. Marketplace".

And the Council of Aljezur needs this document for what? «To support our positions and to make arguments, based on concrete data, for example when we have meetings with Turismo de Portugal», explained José Gonçalves, vice-president of the Chamber.

For this reason, the president of that municipality in Costa Vicentina expressed his interest in «establishing a protocol with the University, at the expense of the municipality. You offer the brains, we offer the rest – we can welcome researchers and students here, promote working days, whatever is necessary. What we need is your gray matter!».

Dean António Branco and Dean Paulo Águas were pleased with the proposal and announced that the request will be followed up, seeking researchers at the University interested in contributing to this study of the impact of surfing.

In the previous visit, a week earlier, to the municipality of Vila do Bispo, the University of the Algarve had been challenged by a maritime-tourist businesswoman from Sagres, studying the market for cetacean observation, which has also seen great growth in the region. And there, too, the dean assumed the commitment to search among UAlg researchers who would like to take on this study.