Ana Mendes Godinho: Bea World Festival is very important to make Portugal visible
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, in an interview with Event Point regarding Bea World, says there is capacity throughout the country to hold events.
We are holding Bea World in Portugal for at least two years. What can this do for the MI [Meetings Industry] in Portugal?
This event is very important because we are able to bring the best international events organisers to know our destination and country. We have been able to bring them to Porto, which is also a way to promote events throughout the country and so that they know the offer and capacity that exists in terms of holding conferences and events here in Porto and in the northern region.
Currently, what is the government doing specifically to boost this sector?
At the moment we have created a team dedicated to attracting events and congresses led by Joaquim Pires, who has been a great striker, and who has contributed immensely to what has been done. This year we reached a record number of congresses held in Portugal. Simultaneously we have a platform, a new online website called "Meetings In Portugal", which is a way for any foreign operator who wants to hold an event or congress in Portugal to know all the resources that exist for MICE. It is a fantastic platform because we have in one place the repository of all the offer available in Portugal for the holding of congresses. In addition, we have a fund to capture events and congresses. We now have 59 new congresses guaranteed for 2018, and in the State Budget we have established a new program called "Tourism and Cinema", precisely to attract major international events for Portugal, a fund of 50 million euros, parallel to the congresses', in which the focus is mainly major events.
What can you anticipate for 2018?
At this moment we already have 59 new congresses guaranteed, but the dynamics is impressive. The fact that we have around 460 international congress organisers here opens the door for them to choose more and more Portugal to host their congresses. We are a country increasingly sought after for everything, we have won 37 European tourism awards and my ambition is to achieve even more in terms of world-wide Oscars. This is my goal now.
One of the sector's concerns is related to the tensionamong traditional tourism, namely in accommodation. Is the Government aware of this?
"Meetings in Portugal" platform allows us to show the existing offer capacity in Portugal. There is an immense capacity of supply, often unknown, spread all over the country and our objective was, first of all, to put make this offer visible. At this moment it is interesting because they can surf the platform and perform targetted searches depending on capacity in either hotel units, meeting rooms and conference rooms. I give you a very concrete example, the São Francisco Congress Centre, which opened at the end of last year in Coimbra, this year alone has held 300 events and congresses. This shows that we have a settled supply and that we have demand reacting and responding, creating more and more dynamism in these areas throughout the year. At the same time we are creating various tools to support the development of new hotel products. We have the Revive program for conversion into hotels of 30 public real estate properties scattered throughout the country in hotels and some of them will be very meaningful to complement this offer.
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