The Municipal Tourism Council met today for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, and from it emerged some key ideas for strategic actions, concerted between the city of Porto and the Northern Region, mainly focused on the idea of using diversity as an asset and thus "promote the capillarity of the tourist offer", even within the urban territory. In a time that opens space for the tourism sector to reinvent itself, it is still necessary to invest in the qualification of human resources, say the councilors.
From the meeting that this morning brought together dozens of councillors at the Teatro Municipal do Porto - Rivoli, representing various entities and institutions, directly or indirectly linked to tourism, the exchange of views seemed to foresee the titico alignment that emerged at the end of the meeting.
The understanding that "the idea that the growth of tourism was due to "any political strategy or to this to that mayor" should be demystified", stated Rui Moreira, passing through the conviction "that this is the most democratic industry and that it derives from the entrepreneurship of the citizens", was transversal.
Faced now with a situation that, even at the beginning of the year, not even the worst nightmares could have foreseen, because, according to the president of Turismo do Porto e Norte de Portugal (TPNP), Luís Pedro Martins, "we were still growing above the national average" (with 6 million guests and 12 million overnight stays, in 2019), we have to seize the opportunity "by daring and interpreting the changes", said the mayor of the city of Porto.
Those who suffered from "tourismophobia" and accused the sector of being a "monoculture" cannot counter with factual data, said Rui Moreira. Tourism contributes 10% to the national GDP, and "in externalities it goes far beyond that," he said. That's why it's now also time to extend a hand to it, creating conditions so that it can be rebuilt and, as in the last crisis, "create jobs again and rehabilitate the city", considered the Mayor of Porto.
Luís Pedro Martins took advantage of the cue to say that the TPNP has "defended a very attentive look at companies and the reinforcement of funds in this sector". He wants "solid companies with qualified human resources" and demands that the Government "urgently discriminate positively for the whole sector" and not just for some areas of the country. Areas such as agriculture, wine, audiovisual content production or support services have also been "badly damaged," he said.
Creating synergies to overcome the crisis
Certain that the moment is difficult, the councilors share the vision of the Councillor of Economy, Tourism and Commerce, Ricardo Valente, that "the time has come for tourism management to be done in a global and transversal logic". The president of the Tourism Association of Porto (ATP) also considers that it is necessary that this logic is bottom up (from the bottom up, i.e. from entrepreneurs to public institutions and entities) and that the Municipal Council of Tourism will have a relevant role in this matter, through the promotion of forums that "promote qualification"; in "supporting the preparation of strategic documents"; and in "creating sectoral working groups". In essence, allowing tourism to be the 'cornerstone' in promoting integrated solutions at local and regional level.
The first step has been taken, with the recent launch of the first joint campaign between ATP and TPNP, "O Norte Lá em Cima", opening the door to a new chapter in cooperation between the two entities.
"We have to provide new routes, have a strategic attitude and leave aside rivalries," said Rui Moreira, who, as Luís Pedro Martins confided, was the force to unblock an institutional relationship that was unprofitable in the past.
Among the participants of the Municipal Tourism Council there were several contributions. From the Serralves Foundation, Isabel Pires de Lima, suggested looking inside the city "at eccentric zones to see how we can enhance dispersion". A pertinent observation for the Mayor of Porto, who identified the potentialities of the Eastern zone as something to be explored, besides the Eastern Park, of cultural projects such as the Casa São Roque or the anchor-project of the reconversion of the Slaughterhouse.
It was also aligned with the idea that in this time it is necessary to bet on the requalification of human resources, through training in the most varied quadrants (in this scope the Chamber already develops free training actions for traders); to promote the itineraries for the street commerce, taking advantage of the Shop in Porto application; to take advantage of distinctive factors; to work with tour operators in order to diversify itineraries between Porto and the Region; besides the close connection to Galicia, to approach the regions of León and Castilla to create synergies, taking advantage of the Douro line, proposed Luís Pedro Martins.
Imagem: Miguel Nogueira/Porto.