In our weekly ‘Back to Business’ series of interviews with the travel industry, Shauna McCrudden talks to Susana Cardoso, Director of the Portuguese Tourist Board, about the changes made for visitors and the opportunities the current tourist landscape brings
“Portugal is open for business,” says Susana Cardoso, Director of the Portuguese Tourist Board based in Dublin. “As of early June, nearly all tourist attractions and facilities are open: hotels, restaurants, beaches, golf courses, shops and more. While numbers are obviously down on last year, we are now seeing more international visitors.”
The Portuguese Tourist Board, or Turismo de Portugal, specialises in all kinds of holidays to Portugal. Whether it is beach breaks, city escapes, golf trips, weddings, walking and cycling, the Camino, fly and drive, luxury breaks and everything in-between. In order to keep the safety and wellbeing of tourists at the very highest level, on April 24th Turismo de Portugal launched the ‘Clean & Safe’ stamp. This stamp certifies businesses that have complied with new Covid-19 hygiene standards.
Susana says, “To date, 19,463 establishments have been certified in the tourism sector, including airports, spas, hotels, golf courses, casinos, museums and parks. Also, 21,000 tourism professionals have received specific training as part of the ‘Clean & Safe’ programme.
“All businesses have had to adapt and implement new health and safety protocols, including sanitisation and social distancing. While the ‘new normal’ will bring challenges for many businesses in the tourism industry, it will also bring some opportunities.”
Susana says she feels very excited about the idea of promoting a “social distance landscape” in Portugal, that most Irish people may never have visited before.
“The inland regions of Portugal are beautiful, with a large variety of different landscapes. This is where visitors can find heritage cities such as Guimarães, Coimbra or Évora. Visitors can also find UNESCO-classified World Heritage sites, such as the Alto Douro wine region, or the prehistoric rock art site in the Côa Valley. There are also natural parks such as Gerês or Serra da Estrela, along with river beaches from north to south.
“Portugal is incredibly unique and diverse. Visitors can blend with local communities and get to know the local gastronomy and wines. As Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet once said, ‘the best way to travel is to feel’.”
The opportunities these types of trips bring cannot be underestimated, nor can the allure of seeing Portugal and the feeling you get from being there. This is something Susana knows well as she says she has recently returned from her home country.
“When you live abroad, the first destination you want to travel to is your own country and hometown. And that’s exactly what I did! I have just recently returned from Portugal where I stayed in the Cascais area to visit my family and friends.”
Considering her recent trip to the country, what advice would Susana give to Irish travellers who want to book flights somewhere soon?
“The use of face masks is mandatory on public transport, services, shops, supermarkets, enclosed spaces or in crowded settings. If you want to go to the beach, make sure you consult the Info Praia app to check the level of occupancy of the beach you are going to.
“Always look for the ‘Clean & Safe’ stamp. But most importantly, be safe and have fun!”
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