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Horta ,  March 21, 2012

Azores tourism registered "remarkable progress" but has challenges to overcome

The Regional Secretary for the Economy assured today at the Legislative Assembly that the Azores tourism registered "a remarkable evolution" in the last 10 years.

Between 2000 and 2011, the number of guests in traditional hotels increased from 200,000 to 340,000 and the number of overnight stays increased from 580,000 to over 1,030,000, informed Vasco Cordeiro during an interpellation made to the Government on the tourism sector.

In the same period, said the government official, revenue rose from just over 26 million Euros for nearly 46 million Euros and the archipelago's hotel industry grew from 3,700 beds to over 8,000 beds.

The prominence of the archipelago as a tourist destination, the identification the identification and structuring of tourism products and the accessibility to the islands were some of the "strategic challenges" mentioned by the Regional Secretary of the Economy.

For Vasco Cordeiro, the strategic challenges the Azores tourism faces also include the structuring of the hotel supply and its relation to tourism products, quality, the correct identification of priority or strategic markets and the agreement among various parties.

As he mentioned, the Azores still face "the lack of prominence" as a tourist destination in markets of relevant interest for us, which are also "an opportunity for the development" of this economic sector.

Therefore, the government official said that one of the strategic priorities for the Azores tourism should be "the increasing of its prominence as a tourist destination" in countries like Germany, Italy, Austria, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Scandinavia, Holland, Finland as well as in some Canadian provinces or some U.S. states, where the "knowledge of the Azores as a tourist destination is incipient or nonexistent."

The Regional Secretary also defended that, within a certain context, we must "allocate the support to tourism operators, or at least part of it, according to the number of tourists that this same operator is able to bring to the Region."

For the government official, the tourism projection of the Region "is inextricably linked to the correct identification and structuring of our regional products" as well as to the coordination "between tourism supply and the entertainment activities and services we have to offer."

Broadly speaking, our main focus should be on nature tourism. In fact, one of our main goals for the coming years is "to turn the Azores into the main nature destination in the country," said Vasco Cordeiro.
"I believe that our offer is unique in the national context and nowadays we are already recognised in Portugal "for what we have to offer in this area," stated the government official.

Vasco Cordeiro also defended the need to "solve" a certain "ambiguity in the tourism supply" on some islands in order to match "what we disseminate and what we have to offer."

The government official also stressed the need "to further invest in quality," defending that the type of tourism we want to offer "cannot thrive unless we associated it to the quality of goods and services, which is not ensured at this time."

"I am afraid that while we focus on sacrificing certain aspects for the sake of prices and if do we not bring added value to products and services that may justify the price, we will hardly progress in the strategic developments that regional tourism claims," admitted Vasco Cordeiro.

According to him, the Azores cannot "base the development strategy of the tourism sector on the promotion of a cheaper destination than other destinations."

By the contrary, "it is necessary, as strategic option, to boost the Azores destination by promoting quality, which is an absolutely essential aspect," defended the government official.

The Regional Secretary for the Economy also considered that in the current context, it is necessary "to break free from business and service practices that might be rooted."

Vasco Cordeiro also highlighted the "absolutely essential" role played by SATA in improving the accessibility to the Azores, "either through agreements with other companies or through contracts with operators."

With regard to accessibility, the Government "will focus on the improvement of connections to the Azores rather than its role as shareholder," said the government official.

The Regional Secretary also said that the strategy for the sector cannot be separated from what the Government has developed internally, with special emphasis on the "bold drop" of inter-island air fares in 2009 and the maritime passenger and vehicle transport services.

Despite some constraints, the maritime passenger and vehicle transport services have created "a genuine internal market that has contributed to the considerable increase of revenue on smaller islands, which is essential for the creation of companies and jobs."

 Concluding, Vasco Cordeiro said that the Government works towards a "balance between the fulfilment of needs in the short term and the construction of foundations for the lasting sustainability of Azores tourism."


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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