The “365 Algarve” is not yet halfway through its first edition, but the balance made so far is mixed, dividing hoteliers and promoters. João Soares, Algarve representative of the Hotel Association of Portugal (AHP), considers, for example, that the lack of success of the program «is in sight».
Dália Paulo, commissioner of this cultural animation program, argues that what “interests is the territory having several choices for those who visit it”.
In statements to the Sul Informação, Dália Paulo explained that the objective of “365 Algarve” is to “reinforce the Algarve brand all year round”. «It was never intended to combat seasonality per se, but to be a tool and a useful instrument for tourists to have a differentiating experience», he added.
Even so, João Soares believes that "the program has to be improved and worked on, in consultation with hotelier associations". Only in this way “can you help” in the low season and “have a better return”. "We know what people want when they are in hotels in winter," he considered.
One of the criticisms pointed out by João Soares is directed, for example, to mobility issues. «If there is a theater play in Loulé, at night, for a client who is in Vilamoura, it is difficult to travel, especially when, in low season, we have a lot of senior tourism», he said.
Although Dalia Paulo guarantees that the regulation for the new edition of “365 Algarve”, whose registrations have already opened, is the result of «hearing several partners», the director of what is the largest hotel association in Portugal regrets «not having been heard».
Elidérico Viegas, president of the Association of Hotels and Touristic Enterprises of the Algarve (AHETA), an entity that Dália Paulo guarantees has been "listened" for the new regulation, told our newspaper that he was not against "the logic" of the programme, but against their “failures and lack of results”. This opinion has even been reiterated by the association in a 2016 balance of tourism and business.
This is because, in the opinion of Elidérico Viegas, this is neither the «program that the Algarve needs», nor «has achieved the objectives it proposed», such as «combating seasonality».
The solution would then be another program that «had half a dozen anchor events, during the mid-season, and that would contribute, by their notoriety, to creating tourist flows and that would further promote the region abroad».
Now, according to Dália Paulo, the “365 Algarve” “was not defined” for these big events. If it were… «the budget would be different», he considers. The commissioner of this program believes, even so, that “365” can “contribute to another program that complements it”.
With regard to the promotion of the 365 Algarve, João Soares guaranteed that it «has been publicized within the hotels», with leaflets, for example, as «we think it is of interest». Elidérico Viegas said that "all members" of AHETA have received the programs. "We don't keep them in the drawer," he added.
Desidério Silva, president of the Algarve Tourism Region, who, in partnership with Turismo de Portugal and the Secretariats of State for Tourism and Culture, is one of the promoters of the programme, recognizes that the first edition «may have weaknesses», assuring , however, that the second edition will try to “find solutions and ways to rectify them”.
To this end, for example, an assessment has already begun by the University of Algarve. Desidério Silva agrees, even so, with the criticisms made by Elidérico Viegas on one point: «it is important that there are two or three reference events». «I don't conform with the program as it is. My proposal is to increase overnight stays and notoriety,” he added.
He even guaranteed that he has already made “this reference” to the two Secretariats of State. “The region needs unity. It is not with divisions that one goes nowhere,” he added, implicitly criticizing the negative opinions of hoteliers.
As for the issue of seasonality, pointed out by AHETA, Desidério Silva, in addition to suggesting “that there are objective proposals”, guaranteed that “seasonality is not reduced only with the 365 Algarve” but also with “nature tourism” or “ with active tourism and gastronomy programs».
The president of the RTA even contradicts the idea that seasonality remains strong in the Algarve, saying that the data «show a higher occupancy rate and more flights during the low season, which is the result of all this work».