The strategy involves, as would be expected, culatres and tourist agents operating on the island. But the Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism on Culatra Island, which was officially presented on the 30th, Monday, does not stop there: it wants to involve tourists and visitors in the difficult mission of “opening the doors” to tourism. , without jeopardizing the authenticity of this fishing community and the natural values it contains.
The presentation of the sustainability plan took place during a workshop, held at the sports club União Culatrense, in Culatra, which also served to publicize the “Training + Próxima” program, as well as to collect (even more) contributions, this time from representatives of different entities.
After all, a word that is strongly associated with the entire process of drawing up the plan is participation.
“This plan is an exercise that we started some time ago and which is a strategic document. What it does is propose a series of measures, which were identified in a participatory way by the culatrese community», from inhabitants to tourist agents, passing through the three associations of the island, he revealed to the Sul Informação José Nunes, president of Make it Better, a Non-Governmental Organization, responsible for the preparation and implementation of the plan.
With these contributions, a document was created that aims to «guarantee that the identity of this fishing center, which is at risk, is protected, while at the same time ensuring that the space we are talking about, which is within the Ria Natural Park Formosa, which is an island with a very great fragility, is respected by visitors and tourists».
Basically, and in very general terms, the plan intends to be a formula that allows “the residents to live on the island in comfort and with their privacy respected, while the visitor can enjoy this space, respecting it”.
At the moment, the implementation of the plan is taking its first steps.
«What we are starting to do is empower local actors – and here we are talking about everyone: the community, maritime-tourists, fishermen, shellfish gatherers, residents and some local services – so that products and services that they offer are qualified and that they themselves pass on the message of protection to the visitor, to ensure that it gets in the ear and stays in the mind of those who come here», explained José Nunes.
«We are using the silver from the house, which is the whole community, to be the elements that empower and form the visitor and that make them aware of the fact that they are stepping on a fragile place and with a series of very own characteristics», added.
This work is done in direct contact, but also through a multiplatform awareness campaign, which is already underway.
In Culatra, where in the last days the MaréS festival took place, a “Responsible Visitor Manifesto” is already being distributed, listing good practices and advice for a sustainable stay on the island.
“We are currently distributing on paper, but we do not want to continue to do so, even though it is recycled paper. The manifest will be available in QR Code on panels at the entrance to the island, but also on the career boat. Before getting on the boat, visitors will also be confronted with the message, which is related to the island of Culatra, but is valid for the entire area of Ria Formosa. Afterwards, it will be on social networks and on the Culatra 2030 website, which we are remodeling, in order to make room for more information about this initiative», revealed the person responsible for Make it Better.
Another dimension of the plan, which has six main axes, is that of training.
«Today we presented its third strategic axis, that of human resources. It has already been registered with the schools of Turismo de Portugal and with the municipality of Faro the application of this training locally», announced José Nunes.
Within the scope of the Training + Próxima program, an initiative that, in the case of Culatra, brings together the Algarve Hotel and Tourism School (EHTA) and the Chamber of Faro, training actions are being (literally) offered oriented to the needs that the recipients identify.
“The objective is to decentralize the training we provide. Instead of being carried out at the EHTA facilities, these actions go to where the trainees are», explained Fernanda Costa, from the School of Tourism of Faro.
The idea is to create specific actions, «in accordance with the needs that are identified» by those who request them. This is where the municipalities come in, which serve as a bridge between the EHTA and the agents of the tourism sector.
No case of Faro, revealed Daniel Queirós, head of the Tourism division of the Chamber of the Algarve capital, there have already been four training courses, all of them of short duration - no more than six hours - and subordinated to different topics, ranging from "Introduction to Digital Marketing" to “Emotional Intelligence”.
The idea is to identify the most relevant topics for future training actions related to Culatra.
The authors and promoters of the plan are still “concerned and already acting on the issue of the island's carrying capacity”, so as not to kill “the goose that lays the golden eggs”.
The plan has a duration of three years, which can be extended, and is now in its infancy. "We hope that together we can take the planned measures to completion."
The document was prepared within the framework of the Sustowns Project, which aims to promote more sustainable tourism in small coastal towns of great historical value, small coastal islands and small inland towns along the Mediterranean basin.