Albufeira has a strategy to make it increasingly “part of your life”

Continuing to have the sun and sea as a priority, the objective is to change the focus and type of tourism

Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

Drunk tourists on the street, sometimes half-naked, provoking disrespect. This is an image that many people, even abroad, evoke when talking about Albufeira. But this is also the municipality with the highest concentration of 5-star hotels and Michelin restaurants in the entire Algarve.

For refocus the image – and the tourist market – of Albufeira, the City Council commissioned the Institute of Tourism Planning and Development (IPDT) a “Development, Promotion and Attraction of New Tourists for Albufeira” strategy for the period up to 2030, which was presented yesterday.

«Sun and beach will always be the main point» of Albufeira's tourist product, but focusing on diversifying the offer, in order to contribute to reducing seasonality, but also to attract new tourist markets, from other nationalities, «with new potential» , as highlighted by José Carlos Rolo, president of the City Council.

With the motto «Albufeira is part of your life!», which refers «to the different generations who have chosen the municipality for their holidays» and «summarizes the strategic positioning of Albufeira 2030», the document presents «the strategic measures and necessary actions to consolidate itself as the Best Sun and Sea Tourist Destination in Portugal, recognized internationally».



For this reason, the objective of this document, guaranteed the president of the municipality, is that it is actually implemented, put on the ground. To this end, a professional Management Structure “dedicated exclusively to destination management, reinforced with technical and market knowledge” must even be created. «This strategy is not to be put in a drawer», stressed the mayor.

Adding that the document can continue to be “fed” with contributions from everyone and “amended” if “contingencies” so require, Rolo highlighted that this is a strategy that, already resulting from the contributions of many local actors and population, “ It is not intended that it be imposed, by anyone, but rather that it be implemented in partnership with everyone», «for the benefit of Albufeira's economic and tourist activity».

As Mónica Montenegro, executive director of IPDT, would later point out, the strategy presented does not break with the past, it is not «disruptive», but rather takes advantage of the experience accumulated by Albufeira over 60 years of tourism, to launch other avenues in order to reinforce and complement the product, as well as to “respond to the challenges of the Algarve and Albufeira, in particular”.

One of the main issues – and this is where the request from Albufeira City Council to IPDT to carry out this work came from – is to change the image of Albufeira as an area for tourists with low purchasing power, short stays, only interested in the beach and the fun of bars and clubs.

Albufeira is much more than that, but that is often not the perception that people have of the destination, whether in Portugal or abroad. And that is not the image that the residents of the municipality themselves have of their land.

This is because, according to data compiled during the preparation of the Strategy, although 89% of residents consider that «tourism is crucial for Albufeira's economy and for the generation of employment», «only 20% agree that the majority of current tourists respect residents and adopt civic behavior when visiting Albufeira». In other words, the majority of Albufeirenses do not like the behavior of their tourists.

The opinion is also not much better among economic agents, as 76% “consider that there has been, in the last 10 years, a change in the profile of Albufeira tourists, who are now less involved in local culture, spend less and are less concerned with the preservation of natural resources».

52% of these economic agents even report being «dissatisfied with the civic behavior of the majority of tourists that Albufeira receives».

Only tour operators seem to be content with the situation. 85% of international operators that sell Albufeira consider it «a safe destination, being the second best rated element, after the quality of the beaches (90%)».

Despite everything, tour operators have one criticism to make: «55% consider it important for the destination to find solutions to combat seasonal business closures», namely hotels, bars and restaurants.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação



According to the document, among the six strategic objectives that will guide action until 2030, the need to “reverse/demystify the generalized image of Albufeira as a mass tourist destination” stands out, as well as to reduce “dependence on the British market , increasing the capture rate of markets with growth potential».

«We want to diversify markets, consolidating strategic segments. The destination's main market is the United Kingdom, with a great dependence on it. In this context, from a long-term sustainability perspective, it is imperative to implement measures that involve investment in the diversification of markets with demand motivations aligned with Albufeira's expanded offer, available throughout the year", highlights the Strategy .

Furthermore, because seasonality makes employment "very volatile", creating a feeling of insecurity among the population, another strategic objective is to "generate economic and social value through tourism", leading to the "establishment of residents" and the "development and retention of qualified human resources”.

«Seasonality is one of the main challenges to the tourist development of Albufeira, as its main product is the sun and sea, with the summer months as its high season. The solution involves structuring a tourist offer that guarantees demand throughout every year and that allows the stabilization of the municipality's job market, which suffers from seasonal tourism», highlights the document.

Among the challenges that arise is the need to “distribute tourist flows” throughout the municipality. This is because tourist activity «has its greatest concentration in the parish of Albufeira and Olhos de Água, and it is desirable that tourist flows are distributed more equally across the territory».

All the more so as this distribution «guarantees the sustainability of the destination and reduces tourist pressure in areas with compromised carrying capacities».

This will also be another way to gain the support of the population. «We want to closely involve the local community in the tourism development process. It is necessary to ensure that residents, in addition to being involved in the tourist experience process, recognize the direct and indirect benefits of tourism, whether economic, social and/or cultural», highlights the document.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


But, as Mónica Montenegro, from IPDT, highlighted, one of the most difficult challenges of the new Strategy is to develop «a new notoriety for Albufeira». The current image and perception of Albufeira «as a mass destination with some excesses associated with nightlife is one of our main challenges». In this context, «the current strategy identifies solutions to reverse and demystify the current situation», which, although it does not correspond «to the reality of the destination», ends up «harming its operations in strategic markets and segments».

To change the image, a lot of work will have to be done. For this reason, the guiding document for tourism in Albufeira until 2030 takes «the position that we do not want tourists whose profiles weaken Albufeira's strategic positioning and who put our global image and the well-being of our residents at risk».

As «non-betting segments», tourists are looking for «low-cost destinations, short stays (less than 3 nights), with the sole motivation of fun, without cultural motivations, with little sensitivity to local life and interaction with residents» , as well as “bachelor party groups” and “finalist trips”.

And it’s not like Albufeira turns its back on nightlife. On the contrary, this activity is considered one of Albufeira's strengths, even when compared to other destinations in the Algarve and in the country or even abroad.

But it has to turn the needle, for nightlife that is synonymous with «memorable and relaxed nights, where fun is always guaranteed and prepared to suit all tastes, in a safe and healthy environment», affirming Albufeira as «a destination that invests in innovation in the offer , seeking to bring something new to visitors, season after season».

In fact, among the concrete actions to be implemented, the creation and dissemination, later this year, of a Code of Conduct called “Fun Meets Respect: Albufeira's Shared Guidelines”, as well as the «preparation of a study for the suitability of a municipal regulation for the management of the sale of alcoholic beverages».

And what does this Strategy intend to achieve, in addition to affirming Albufeira as the main sun and sea destination in the country?

There are six strategic (and ambitious) goals to be achieved by 2030: achieving a seasonality rate of overnight stays of 38% (currently 45%, almost half of total overnight stays), increasing RevPAR to 100 euros, i.e., revenue per available room (in 2022 it was 65 euros), as well as increasing the share of overnight stays in strategic markets, which include Canada, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland (8% in 4), to 2022%, achieving a rate of tourist satisfaction of 90%, ensure that 75% of residents recognize that the benefits of tourism outweigh the negative impacts (in 2022 only 31% had this favorable opinion) and certify Albufeira as a “Sustainable Tourist Destination”.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


To achieve such ambitious goals and objectives, we must focus on communication, not leaving it solely in the hands of international tour operators (who currently control 75% of communication about the destination).

The focus now is on «maintaining and strengthening close relationships with markets that are representative of Albufeira's tourism dynamics and fostering the growth of others with the potential to diversify the spectrum of audiences with interests and motivations coinciding with our tourist vocation».

Thus, 60% of this effort will be concentrated on «priority investment in consolidated markets, with a history of structuring and qualified demand for Albufeira's tourist dynamics», such as the United Kingdom, Portugal, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain.

25% of the effort will be directed towards reinforcing the focus on markets «with a presence in the destination, with a high margin of growth and which can add value to Albufeira's tourism dynamics» (Canada, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland).

10% of the effort will be made to maintain the focus on markets “with a presence in the destination, but with a reduced margin for growth”: Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Brazil, Austria and Luxembourg.

Finally, the remaining 5% will be allocated to «explore opportunities» in markets «with little expression, but with high growth potential, in a logic of diversification». These are the cases of Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Hungary.

Through the Management Structure (DMO – Destination Management Organization), Albufeira intends to «adopt a communication strategy that combines direct promotion to the end consumer and intermediated promotion, in a 50%/50% logic».

«This approach will allow us to interact directly with new potential consumers, also helping the tourist operation to make its work easier in reaching new audiences, increasing its market shares», explained Mónica Montenegro.

“Efforts will also be made to increase the capacity for direct communication with the consumer, having greater autonomy and the ability to intervene directly with the segments we intend to capture”. The even greater investment in digital networks and media will be a reality.

The presentation of the “Strategy for Development, Promotion and Attraction of New Tourists” took place with the municipality’s main hall completely full. The assistance included those mainly responsible for regional tourism, such as André Gomes, president of the Algarve Tourism Region, Alberto Mota Borges, director of Algarve Airport Faro, Hélder Martins, president of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises of the Algarve (AHETA), Vítor Neto, president of NERA – Algarve Business Association, as well as many businesspeople and other responsible and managers of the tourism and hotel sector, academics, mayors.

In the end, the president of the Chamber José Carlos Rolo hoped that «they were pleased, with some curiosity and some doubts about this document», which «is not intended to be a bible that cannot be changed».

The “Strategy” is intended to be just a “starting point for a new phase of tourism in Albufeira”. And the pretension is not small.


Click here to see the summary of the “Strategy for Development, Promotion and Attraction of New Tourists” (in Portuguese and English)


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


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