Tourism that is not seen, but felt

On this Christmas Day, we publish one of the reports from “Dois” magazine as a gift for our readers.

Accommodation in a village where it's rare to find anyone on the street, a project that brings together artisans and agri-food producers, a salt pan that lets tourists collect salt and a company that takes them for walks inland. It is an Algarve away from the beach and the sea. Perhaps more authentic. Certainly, there is still a lot to explore.

The heat that is felt in Giões is far from surprising Luísa Tavares. «We had days and days of hitting 40 degrees», she says.
We are in the interior of the Algarve, in the municipality of Alcoutim, the oldest in Portugal.

At 15 pm on a Friday, you can't see a soul. There are no people, no noise: total silence reigns.

It was there, in that Algarve, unlike «the other one down there», that Luísa and her husband João decided to set up a local accommodation. They called it “Recanto d'Aldeia”.


Luísa Tavares – Photo: Nuno Costa | Sul Informação


«I lived in Lisbon, I retired and I was fed up. My husband and I started to think: where are we going? We researched and researched and one day this came up to us », she explains, pointing to the group of houses that make up this “Recanto d'Aldeia”.

The initial idea was “just” to find a place to live, away from the frenzy of the capital, but, at a certain point, the couple realized that, from those ruins, it might be possible to do more.

“What if we opened this up to people? So we did and, in 2018, we officially started working», says Luísa.

Tourists who choose “Recanto d'Aldeia” can find two houses: the one with the beehives and the one with the donkey – names that respect ancient uses -, but also a tank, turned into a swimming pool. Hospitality, tranquility and rest is what there is to offer.


Nook of Village


In total, “Recanto d'Aldeia” never receives more than 6/7 people: one of the houses has one bedroom and the other two.

In Giões, there is little to offer (a grocery store, a cafe or two), but it is this worldly detachment that many tourists seek.
The nearest beach, for example, is more than 50 kilometers away.

It is true that «it is a great challenge» to have this business open. Luísa Tavares points out a problem that is currently so common in the Algarve: the «lack of people to work». It is the couple who make this corner stand up and open to tourists every day. This daily work, «which is tiring», does not change Luísa's mind.

Since taking the decision to move to Giões, the owner of Recanto d'Aldeia has always had in mind the need to «be part of the community». And it is for this purpose that she fights daily.

«This may be a wilder and tougher Algarve, but it is so, so beautiful», shoots the former bank clerk, now an adopted Alcouteneja.


João Ministro (behind) – Photo: Flávio Costa | Sul Informação


João Ministro knows well the paths followed by many of the tourists that Luísa receives in her accommodation – walkers are a good part of the guests at “Recanto d'Aldeia”.

Since 2010, Proactive Tour has been dedicated to a well-defined tourist segment: «we specialize in bringing people from outside to walk», explains the entrepreneur, in an interview with Dois magazine.

90% of the activity takes place inland, away from the beaches and mass tourism. There are walks for all tastes, from one end of the Algarve to the other.

«The interior of the region has immense potential... There are things that are lost: the landscape changes, people disappear, but, deep down, my job is also to take these things and make them tourist attractions», says João Ministro.

By working with «small groups», as he himself recognizes, there is also the possibility of having «more personalized» programs: and that is what Proactive Tour does.

But is there interest from tourists in these different products?

From the entrepreneur's experience, the answer is only one: yes. And more and more.

«There has been a growing demand from tourists for our services and I confirm this every day. Germany and the Netherlands are always the target audiences, but I find it curious that most of my clients are the first time to come to the Algarve and some even to Portugal », she says.

Americans, adds the businessman, are also starting to discover the charms of this Algarve, farther from the beach.


Jorge Raiado – Photo: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação


In Castro Marim, next to the road and with Ayamonte as a backdrop, Jorge Raiado also receives more and more tourists.

When he created Salmarim, the idea of ​​receiving visitors came «naturally».

«We are here at the side of the road, people were stopping, they were visiting», he begins by explaining. Later came the need to have a «closed product».

Anyone who goes to Salmarim, visits the salt pans, listens to Jorge Raiado tell stories, picks fleur de sel and is even entitled to a small tasting.
People from all over are looking for this experience: Americans, Brazilians, Canadians, Japanese, Germans, French, Belgians, Dutch and, of course, Portuguese.

Jorge Raiado, who is always the service guide, adapts each visit to the nationality and type of tourists he receives. «What I always have to do is make them understand how a salt pan works: whether here or anywhere else in the world», he says.

The businessman proudly displays a kind of guestbook, where the comments have a common denominator: gratitude for the unique activity in which the tourists have just participated.

«Above all, we want to create empathy, a connection with people. May they leave here with a memorable experience that they will remember », she says.

If everything goes according to plan, by the end of the year, these tourists who seek the Algarve not only for the beaches will have (more) a product waiting for them.


João Amaro – Photo: Nuno Costa | Sul Informação


In February 2020, a different new tourist project was publicly presented. Its name: Algarve Craft & Food. Without guessing what would happen weeks later, the pandemic forced the suspension of the initiative promoted by three entities: Algarve Tourism Board, Tertúlia Algarvia and Cooperativa QRER.

After the storm of the pandemic, Algarve Craft & Food has already returned to thinking about a different kind of tourism for the region, bringing together around 20 artisans and agri-food producers.

There is everything: people involved in work, esparto, stoneware, ceramics, wood, cane, producers of sausages and confectionery.

The idea is to create or improve creative tourism programs (which combine, for example, a cataplana class with an experience in the boilermakers' workshop or an empreita workshop with picking figs).

Added to this is the incentive for artisans to develop new handicraft pieces that have a «strong connection to our cuisine and our materials», adds João Amaro, from the restaurant Tertúlia Algarvia.

This work «is already being done» and the creative tourism programs themselves «are also defined», he reveals. The products have not yet reached the tourists, but expectations are high.

The president of the Algarve Tourism Board also places great hope in this type of initiative. João Fernandes has no doubt that this type of tourism, which is more creative and authentic, is in "increasing" demand.

«It is a growing product and one that we have been focusing on for some years now», he considers. The results are already visible.

«There are more and more businesses and companies emerging, dedicated to these areas, and that are dedicated to the cultural and environmental aspects», adds the president of the Algarve Tourism Region.

For the future, João Fernandes says that there is still “a lot to be done”. But «the path has to go through continuing all the work of promotion that has already begun».

It involves “structuring” the entire offer, bringing together the Municipal Councils, the Algarve Tourism Region and the Commission for Coordination and Regional Development itself.

This “other tourism”, far from the usual sun and beach, seems to have no lack of potential.

Will it be used?


NOTE: This was one of the reports published in the magazine “Dois”, launched this year by Sul Informação🇧🇷 On this Christmas day, we publish it as a gift for our readers who haven't read it yet. If you still want to receive the “Two” magazine, you can click here to order it. Happy Holidays!



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