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April 17, 2018

Portugal: Center of Portugal Set to Take Over Congresses and Events by Storm

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Center of Portugal is no longer only nature. In a year of aftermath and recovery from the worst fire in the region (and in the country), investing in events and congresses to boost the national economy has almost become a national plan. Pedro Machado, President of Turismo Centro de Portugal (TCP) told Event Point that the idea is for the Meetings Industry (MI) to be an engine for the development of this region. "MI will allow the structuring of new products and the reinforcement of our positioning in what is the need for the region to take on new promotions and strategies that can complement a weakness that we have in the territory and that is associated with the landscape," he said. By implementing this strategy, the region has a way open to a paradigm shift. "With a structuring product we can have a steadier presence, with congresses throughout the year and overcome seasonality," Pedro Machado commented.

For now, the region will benefit from an incentive program announced by the Government, with a support line of around 200 thousand euros that will be channeled to attract events and congresses to the regions that suffered the most with the fires. This program, which is the responsibility of Turismo de Portugal (TP), allows the setting up of events involving between 15 to 299 overnight stays, “ with a financial support's intensity that starts with 22€ /overnight", according to a statement from the tourism entity. In addition, in the case of events occurring during the IATA winter period [from October to March], there will be a surcharge, corresponding to a further 25% of the base value of the support to be granted. The regulation that guides this initiative establishes that the support is granted through a contract between TP and the event organiser, with an application process, decision, execution of the funded project and a final report on the event.

For Pedro Machado, the "feedback is frankly positive", considering that "it opens a new window so that municipalities that have some infrastructure can host medium and smaller meetings. And it allows these territories to have an incentive for themselves to enter this championship, something they otherwie wouldn't be able to do. For companies it is also very satisfying to know that if they do it, they have this support from both the Government and the TP," TCP President added.

This initiative was launched last November during the APAVT (Portuguese Association of Travel Agencies and Tourism) congress, in Macao, by the Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho. "This is an incentive program in which, depending on the number of participants, Turismo de Portugal has a mechanism to support events and congresses, in Centro's fire affected regions," the Minister stated on the sidelines of the event.

Pedro Machado gave an account of the works progress. "At this moment we are working so that the events can be channeled to TP, in partnership with Turismo do Centro. And with our counterparts, AHRESP (Portuguese Association of Hotels, Catering and Similars) and AHP (Portuguese Association of Hotels). We seek to attract congresses and we are in line with the Convention Bureau taking advantage of the offices that are being constituted, for example in the Universities of Coimbra and Aveiro," he explained.

He also assured that Centro has the right infrastructure to launch itself in the conquest of the MI, mentioning the "cultural and congress centre of São Francisco in Coimbra, which has a capacity for five thousand people simultaneously. Also the cultural centre of congresses in Caldas da Rainha" and the network of Universities and Polytechnics in Centro, where many events and congresses are held.

Alexandra Noronha

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