Porto Convention & Visitors Bureau is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 by a group of institutions interested in developing the Tourism Industry in Porto and Northern Portugal. The purpose of the Association is to develop and externally promote Porto and Northern Portugal as a tourist destination, contributing decisively as a catalyst for their image and reputation in various international markets. Although the positive results in the North of Portugal throughout this pandemic are notorious after a somewhat troubled start, the fear and hesitation of congressmen and companies has still dictated the business breakdown across Europe. We tried to clarify these points with João Ramos, International Promotion Director of Porto CVB.
1) How is your destination containing this whole situation in order to get back on track? What are the main measures on the table?
2) What has been the impact for your customers and partners, such as hotels, venues or restaurants, as far as you can tell?
The situation has been extremely damaging for the Tourism sector, and North of Portugal has been no exception. Companies are requesting lay-offs - unfortunately with a tremendous impact on our economic activity - even though the Portuguese government has implemented several protective measures for workers and companies. There are still some hotels that will be reactived in the coming days, but most of the services associated with the city's tourism - DMCs and PCOs, cruise companies, bus and tourism companies, among others - are open and, although with less activity, compared to last year, business is gradually increasing.
It is extremely important to address the EU's lack of responses when it comes to regulations for the MICE industry. This brought insecurity and resistance, which leads to constant cancellations and postponements. Without strict regulations, it is almost impossible to move forward and make bold predictions. Destinations like ours are using all available resources to promote trade and support local and international entities and this has brought some positive results, which we believe will increase over time.
3) What will be your top priority when resuming activities? What are the main targets?
Activities have already resumed and most of our members are already active, following all necessary guidelines and looking forward to receiving delegates, associations and companies. The safety legacy is "ON" and highly implemented, to make our destination ready and able to organize and assist all types of events.
We will continue to support our members and engage as much as possible with international organizations and partners to make the most out of 2020 and prepare 2021. We are planning a number of measures to further enhance Porto Convention Bureau even more on the map of Congresses and Events, by approaching new actors in the region to create an even more attractive destination. We are also looking out for partnerships with Companies, Associations and Buyers in main feeder markets, inviting them to visit Porto and witness, first hand, the “new-normal”. Moreover, Porto Convention Bureau will coordinate a strong and effective relationship with "to-be appointed" GSO’s in feeder markets.
4) How concerned are you about the crisis in international aviation and the volume of air routes to the North of Portugal?
Portugal borders on its entire scale with Spain, so we are highly dependent on air routes for the survival of the Tourism sector. On our side, we promptly provided all possible assistance to the airlines flying to Porto and we made available support for financial resources in partnership with the National Tourism Council.
Porto and the North had a significant positive performance in combating this pandemic. Even with a weekly decrease in flights, we managed to maintain most of the destination routes. We are confident that tourists will recognize the effort that the entire Tourism Chain is making to create a safe destination. Porto, as a destination, remains the same as before the starting of this Pandemic.
5) How do you see the future of events in Porto after this pandemic?
I believe that the keywords will be sustainability and digital. Both concepts play a huge role in the development of an event destination. Digital, since we do believe on the potential of a digital event in terms of profits and impact on international visibility, and sustainability as it contributes to the balance of the development of our society.
Porto and the North of Portugal offer a wide variety of venues, hotels and competent event specialists who can adapt to various formats of security environment according to the needs of each client. Human-to-human contact is essential for the wellbeing of people, the upkeep of economic transactions and knowledge, so this pandemic is reinforcing the urgency for these interactions to happen in order to obtain better results.
(Photo Caption) João Ramos - International Promotion Director at Porto CVB
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