The Association Odiana and the municipality of Alcoutim launched on Friday, November 30, the Forum of Hiking and Nature Tourism, an initiative that brought together about 70 participants to discuss this tourist niche.
The potential of nature tourism "can guarantee the tourist attractiveness of the region throughout the year," says the organization on this specific sector of the market.
The opening of the forum was carried out by Osvaldo Gonçalves, president of Alcoutim Municipality, who spoke on the increasing commitment of the municipality in this segment, and João Fernandes, president of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA), who welcomed the various initiatives of that the Algarve already has, congratulating the municipality of Alcoutim for events such as the Festival of Hiking and the Festival of Contraband – the latter "can get around 20 thousand people and unite Portugal and Spain."
The RTA leader also appealed to the various local, regional and national players to consider nature tourism as a clear example of combating the seasonality of the region, stressing that "we must overcome the mentality of some of the old people of Restelo."
The initiative was attended by entities, companies and stakeholders in this field.
Cláudia Ruivinho from RTA presented the "Cycling & Walking Algarve" program, highlighting its increasing evolution and ensuring that the basic conditions for this segment are met.
The Cooperative QRER, through João Ministro, presented the "Algarve Walking Season" – a set of three hiking festivals, assuring "that there is room for more".
By 2019, he has advanced challenges such as "inclusive walks, new themes, greater appreciation of heritage and twinning with festivals from other continents."
Patrícia Malheiro, from Biosphere, addressed different paradigms, warning that qualified and challenging offers should be created, but always tailored to the segment. "Genuineness, authenticity and the awakening of the senses are the parameters that guarantee the experience that the current tourist seeks," he stressed.
The afternoon of the forum was assigned to the most practical examples of the segment. Juan Carlos Alvarez presented the Tenerife Walking Festival and proved that the Spanish island – with 50% of the territory in protected space and 1500 kilometers of pedestrian paths famous for the sun and beach binomial – "can and should be more than that – for everything".
José Rabasa, from the ITINERANTUR company in Castellon, Spain, addressed the concepts of slow tourism, the principles of active and responsible tourism, interpretive walks and environmental education programs allied to hiking.
To conclude, Sílvia Madeira, of the entity promoting the event, spoke of Odiana as the entity responsible for the creation in the Lower Guadiana of 135 kilometers of small pedestrian routes and, more recently, of the Grande Guadiana Route, highlighting the set of promotional actions that is being prepared.
On Saturday, December 1, the initiative continued, but in a closed event, destined only to tour operators, journalists and invited bloggers, carrying out a thematic visit to Alcoutim with a boat trip on the Guadiana, hiking on the Great Guadiana Route (GR15), a "Afternoon with the Shepherd", traditional lunch and astronomical observation.