SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai
The very first ‘Portugal Experience Workshop 2012’ organised in Mumbai recently saw a delegation of tour operators and hoteliers from the country interact with the Indian travel trade. Conceding that they have entered the market a bit late, Frederico Costa, president, Turismo de Portugal, however said, “The positive part of it is that having followed others we will not make any mistakes. We are prepared in terms of strategy for this market as this is not a small country nor an easy market, it is almost a continent.” Currently there are very few tourists from India – about 13,000 to 14,000, in the first year – Costa expects to double the numbers.
Turismo de Portugal identifies MICE as one of the important target segments from India besides cities, cultural tourism, shopping and golf products. “I think we have a fantastic range of products to give to the Indian tourist,” stated Costa. The important destinations for MICE are Algarve area in the south that is a resort area (beach and golf); Lisbon that offers history, shopping, nightlife and gastronomy; Portu in the north of the capital is the second largest city in Portugal with one million inhabitants which has also excellent facilities for the MICE market.
“Portugal is a very compact country, it is a small destination and very easy to get around. The landscapes are however completely different and we have divergent offerings. You can land in Lisbon and within three hours go north to the mountains or reach south to the beach and golf resorts,” stated Costa, adding that, while their main objective is to promote Portugal as a destination in India, but they are well aware that the combination with Spain also works well. “Our objective is to increase the numbers of nights that Indian tourists stay in Portugal. I think Portugal is well prepared for honeymooners. It is a very romantic place to stay with history and stories to tell, but a very cosmopolitan and modern as well,” he added.
Portugal also has island destinations that are being promoted, e g Madeira and Azores in the Atlantic.
Tourists who frequent Portugal are mostly from Europe who visit during June, July, September and October which leaves rest of the year open to other markets. Costa points out that the Indian market works very well in November, February, March and April, which are low months in Portugal. “India is booming and travel agents are looking at new destinations like Portugal to offer to their clients,” he said.