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The charming town of Vouzela was the first to get the Biosphere certification in Portugal, Source: Pedro, on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Portugal wants to position itself as the most sustainable country for tourism

Portugal wants to position itself as the most sustainable country for tourism

Meeting a new tide in expectations from environmentally-aware travellers

Yesterday, during a visit to the small town of Vouzela, Rita Marques, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism expressed the opinion that the country should be marketed as “the most sustainable country in the world”. This reflects an increasing awareness on part of the authorities that relying only on the traditional attractions that Portugal offers might not be enough in the contemporary tourism market.

Sustainability is not an ephemeral fad

In the Tourism Secretary’s view, for this to happen, there must be “many headings” in that direction, with catering, tourist entertainment and hotel companies working to obtain the Biosphere international label (which certifies sustainable tourism destinations and establishments).

The Municipality of Vouzela (located in Central Portugal) was the first in the country to receive the prestigious label.

The important thing is that we make a difference, because, in order to continue to grow in value, we have to be many, it is not enough by decree or by the imposition of Turismo de Portugal, to claim that we are the most sustainable country in the world. We have to make a concerted effort,” she stressed, as quoted by the Lusa news agency.

Rita Marques said that “tourism is not sold just because Portugal has extraordinary assets: idyllic landscapes, a wonderful sea and genuinely delicious cuisine”.

The local tourism sector would need to recognize the salience that the issues of sustainability hold today for travellers that are growing increasingly conscious about their holiday choices. Sustainability was also meant to be understood as composed of three pillars: economic, environmental and social – making a coherent unity together.

This was not the only call from a Portuguese high official to boost efforts in fine tuning the country’s brand. At the beginning of the month, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, suggested that Portugal should "take advantage" of its advantages, referring specifically to the current geopolitical situation.

"For those who choose, in terms of tourism, it makes a difference whether they are very close to what they consider to be the centre of the conflict or further away from it," he said, quoted by CNN Portugal, referring to the country’s geographical location as being quite distant from the raging war in Ukraine.

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