Photo: Catarina Bandeira

Nuno Fazenda, Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce, and Services

Among the many functions he held, Nuno Fazenda has extensive experience in the field of tourism. As director of the Department of Community Program Management at Turismo de Portugal, he was responsible for the areas of regional development, management of European programs, and for the coordination of the National Tourism Strategy 2027, currently in effect. He was also an international expert at the World Centre of Excellence for Destinations.

We spoke with Nuno Fazenda about the resumption of tourism activity in Portugal, the dynamization of the destination and the strategy for promoting product segments in conjunction with the territorial cohesion policy.

You recently took over the Tourism portfolio, which is emerging from a pandemic crisis and in the context of an ongoing war in Europe. How did you find the sector and what are the biggest challenges it faces?

I found a thriving, resilient and transformative sector, gradually recovering from the pandemic period. I remember that the watchword for the year 2023, the result of this recovery and some external geopolitical instability, was ‘uncertainty’. Today, the certainty is the following: tourism is one of the great levers of our economic growth, the technological adaptation and modernization of our companies is happening at an accelerated pace, and we may have a record year, of tourism all year round, throughout the territory. For the near future, human resources and tourism throughout the territory are two of the main challenges. To this end, to face the challenges of labour shortages, their salary enhancement, the increase in qualifications, and territorial cohesion, in these six months of office, we launched the Agenda for the Professions of Tourism and the Agenda for Tourism for the Interior – and we are now ensuring that it is realised.

Do you believe there are conditions for tourism in Portugal to grow outside the big cities or the flagship products?

Portugal, in the fullness of its territory, has many conditions to grow outside of our flagship products or destinations, as, in fact, it is already doing. Destinations such as Lisbon, Porto, Algarve or Madeira will always be important for attracting more markets and for national tourism, but we want to diversify our offer throughout the year, throughout the territory, fulfilling the current strategy for tourism in Portugal – the Tourism 2027 Strategy. Thematic or segmented tourism products, such as nature tourism, literature, wine tourism and military tourism, among others, can add value and give the territory a tourist ecosystem in which they can prosper. The Interior Tourism Agenda, with an initial global allocation of 200 million euros, wants to push our interior and link coastal tourism to the rest of the country. It is a public tourism policy, strategic, with more than 20 measures to contribute to territorial cohesion.

What role can tourism play in the development and territorial cohesion of the country?

Tourism plays a central role in the territorial cohesion of our country. The multiplier nature of tourism can leverage economies, businesses and industries. And, with the right incentives and a sustainable project, tourism can provide territories with economic diversification, strengthening their entrepreneurial capacity and the qualification of the productive fabric through knowledge and innovation. With more tourism there will be more business, more economic activity, and this is always reflected in the community.

The Historic Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras works mainly the cultural and military tourism segments of the Napoleonic invasions of Portugal, but also emotions based on the experiences that the tourist can enjoy. In your opinion, how can Turismo de Portugal help leverage a product that crosses several territories and public and private agents?

The Historic Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras is a collaborative effort to promote a tourist and cultural itinerary. This network, which brings together municipalities and entities of a public and private nature, is an example of governance and structuring of a tourism product, anchored in a network that involves public and private partners and that assumes historical rigor, but also the storytelling associated with the tourist experience. In addition to financial support for the Rota Histórica projects, our objective, the objective of Turismo de Portugal, is precisely to help leverage a product that crosses several territories, helping to articulate it with the Regional Tourism Entities and with other public and private partners. The implementation of this type of project will make it possible to expand the offer and resources base to other territories covered by the Napoleonic theme, and Turismo de Portugal, with the collaboration of the Regional Tourism Entities and partners, is starting to coordinate this structuring work, on a national scale, of the network of the Napoleonic Itineraries Portugal, obviously also counting on the involvement of the Historic Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras.

Within the scope of the previous ‘Valorizar’ programme, by Turismo de Portugal, but also by COOPERA (Interreg V), some projects were developed that laid the foundations for the construction of a Napoleonic itinerary that crossed Portugal. How can a project with so many stakeholders contribute to the creation of a differentiated tourism product?

Within the scope of the Support Line for the Enhancement of Tourism in the Interior, we financed and have been monitoring the execution of the project to structure the Napoleonic Itineraries, promoted by CIM Coimbra, by the Historic Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras, involving all the associated municipalities, and, of course , by the Municipality of Arruda dos Vinhos. It is a differentiating project in that it will make it possible to make augmented reality and virtual reality content available in the resources covered, in addition to other networked initiatives such as the Napoleonic Routes Events Agenda. With the conclusion of the project, during the 2nd semester, it will be possible to make tourist agents in the territories aware of this tourist-cultural offer, in order to encourage them to develop programs that can cross the heritage dimension, with active tourism activities, gastronomy and themed events. Only with so many associated entities is it possible to design and implement such an ambitious tourism product, which crosses geographic and digital territories, to promote the differentiation, quality and value of our tourism products.

To be sustainable, tourism must involve communities and guarantee returns for the resident population. How can communities benefit from ‘niche’ tourism value?
The Tourism activity sector is a multiplier of all others. When planned and carried out with sustainability, authenticity and genuineness, with the satisfaction of residents as one of the main indicators, it can be a great economic lever for a region, for its commerce, for its restaurants and even for the creative industries, as an example. Communities with ‘niche’ tourist value, as you call it, can gain value by betting on differentiation, technological qualification, promotion of the destination and the product, environmental sustainability, among others, aligning themselves with the major market trends and, always, with the satisfaction of residents and visitors as a priority.

Given the current situation of tourism in Portugal, what place does military tourism occupy?

For the development of the country’s tourism, in line with the objectives of the 2027 Tourism Strategy, it is important for us to work, in an articulated manner, with partners in the territories – public entities and companies – in the structuring of tourism products that allow the diversification of demand markets, throughout the year and throughout the national territory. In this Strategy, Military Tourism is considered a differentiating strategic asset, based on the History, Culture and Identity of our country, on assets associated with the heritage and military architecture present throughout the territory. We currently have several ongoing projects that aim to strengthen and promote our military tourism. The Napoleonic Itineraries are an example of this, as well as the ‘Dinamizar Fortalezas de Fronteira’ (‘Dynamize Frontier Fortresses’) Program and the Route of the Templars. History and Culture are strategic assets of national tourism.

Photo: Catarina Bandeira