Looking For Lift: Albufeira Tourism, Visit Portugal Host Agents In Toronto

with Kerry Sharpe

Luis Pereira, Albufeira Tourism (L) and William Delgado, Visit Portugal.

L-R: Craig Canvin, Goway; Dan Prior, Transat; and
Firdosh Bulsara, Victours.

Representatives from Azores Airlines.

Dubbed “the gem in the Algarve,” Albufeira Tourism together with Visit Portugal, hosted a trade show and dinner for Toronto-area agents last week (27SEP) to promote the region in advance of its peak travel season.

While already a popular destination, particularly among Canadian travellers, representatives from the region want, and believe, those numbers can grow – and dramatically – provided they can get the necessary lift.

While last year, Albufeira saw an 18% increase in Canadian arrivals – making Canada one of the region’s fastest growing markets –  they still have a long way to go according to Luis Pereira, general manager for Albufeira Tourism: “For the Canadian market [in 2017], we had – more or less – 195,000 overnights. If we divide that number for the average stay, it gives 13,000 tourists – it’s not much. We can triple it. We have the capacity – we just need a push from the airlines.”

Currently, Air Transat is the only airline offering direct flights from Canada to Faro, the international airport serving Albufeira and the Algarve, while Air Canada and TAP both offer direct flights to Lisbon and Porto. And while visitors can certainly first to either city, spend a few days there exploring, and then continuing on down to Albufeira via plane, bus, train or rental car, it’s not the most convenient, hence Pereira’s push for more lift directly to Faro.

The trade show, which featured some of Albufeira Tourism’s and Visit Portugal’s various partners – among them Transat, TAP Portugal, Azores Airlines, and many of the region’s hoteliers – also took the opportunity to showcase to the travel agents in attendance, that the Algarve is much more than sun, beach and golf; that it’s a year-round destination with lots to offer, from dolphin-watching to cycling and hiking.

“There’s a new [hiking trail] that goes from the Spanish border to Sagres, the most southwestern point in Europe – almost 200 kilometres,” said Pereira. “Visitors can do the full trek or some segments of it,” spending the rest of their time there enjoying the region’s great value and fabulous gastronomy.

And value is something both Portugal and Albufeira have in spades. “Portugal is not so expensive compared to other European countries,” said Pereira. “The value, for what we have to offer, is immense.”

Kerry Sharpe

Kerry Sharpe Columnist

Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.

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