TOURISM POLICIES IN PORTUGAL
Definitions of Tourism Policy and Comparisons
Different periods have had varying classifications and definitions used to analyze and measure tourism, which has led to challenges when comparing statistics in different countries. However, international communities such as the United Nations developed steps aimed at harmonizing as well as adopting processes as far as various international guidelines on tourism and statistics are concerned (Wray, 2009). In this respect, the Statistical Office of the European Union has had various tourism publications that define tourism as the activity taken by visitors usually in trip making to main destinations in outside their normal environment (Wray, 2009). These trips usually take less than a year when engaging in various purposes such as leisure, business or personal engagements that do not include employment opportunities by resident entity in such destinations. This paper will analyze the most recent tourism policy decisions for Portugal, policy cycles, influences and their particular benefits.
There are various types of tourism activities that exist in any geographical locations or countries. The most common type of tourism is referred to as domestic tourism where residents within a particular geographic location or country of reference normally take part in outbound or domestic trips. This is seen in instances where residents living in Portugal engage in tourism activities such as taking trips around Portugal (Bill & Bryson 2006). In this case, such tourists may decide to take trips where their final destination may be seen to Portugal or outside the country of Portugal also known as outbound trips.
Additionally, there is inbound form of tourism whereby non-residents found within a particular country of reference engage on an inbound trip (Valenci, Cravidao & Fernanda, 2012). For instance, any residents of Germany may decide to trips in Portugal. Statistically, such inbound trips are normally under Portugal tourism statistics. Outbound tourism occurs when local residents decide to participate in trips outside their particular country of reference (Carvalho, 2015). Tourism is an important business activity as it makes immense contributions to the social-economic position of Portugal as a whole. It is regarded to be among the three top largest social-economic activity including construction, distribution and trade sectors (Valencia et al, 2012). This means that it has overall positive effect as far as employment and economic growth are concerned.
Most recent tourism policies in Portugal
In 2013, Portuguese economy began recovering after a series of structural reforms aimed at improving its performance. The structural reforms led to an output growth of 0.9% that was registered in 2014, the following year (Cunha & Marques, 2013). In addition, the private sector recorded employment growth due to consumer confidence as well as private consumption. However, in 2014 Portugal experienced a boom in economy as a result of excellent performance in the tourism sector. These were impressive results despite the existing uncertainties that were looming in the economic environment. This is because hotel guests rose from 12% in 2013 to 22% with a total of 16.1 million guests (Gracia, 2014).
Currently, the most critical policy that is undergoing the process of review is the National Tourism Strategy that was implemented for the period 2016-20. The particular policy has articulated important issues such as the accreditation of destinations as well as products, competitiveness of all businesses in the tourism sector and also preservation of both cultural and natural resources (Orsi, 2015). The policy aims to improve competitiveness amongst various tourism businesses by way of prioritizing the process of financial access with the aim of promoting entrepreneurship and innovations. In addition, this policy has covered other important tourism areas such as skills in ICT and strategy, development or creation of a fierce business environment characterized by high levels of competitions having reduced red tape and promoting a digital economy that has high levels of quality (Orsi, 2015).
It is worth noting that Portugal is faced with various challenges during the process of implementations on such policies. In this regard, the main problem has been connectivity between various stakeholders in the tourism sector (David & Else, 2007). Thus, there have been difficulties during such processes such as raising and conducting awareness during critical processes such as research studies that articulate existing relationship between transport and tourism policies. In particular, air transport has faced challenges of developing or creating new routes because of emerging and growing markets (Thomas & Augustus, 2007).
Policy priorities such as the promotion of sustainable and inclusive growth as well as competitiveness of the tourism industry based on the support for local life, besides distinctive attributes of Portugal as a country (Valencia et al., 2012). Therefore, there is a need to adapt effectively to existing competition and an environment that is constantly changing. In this respect, innovation, digitalization knowledge management as well as entrepreneurship of the entire tourism economy becomes a critical key (Dregge & Jenkins, 2012). This is usually achieved through strategic measures aimed at promoting and supporting businesses. In addition, Portugal’s tourism industry is tasked with giving priority to important areas such as developing empowerment programs aimed at employees, companies and other tourism stakeholders (Pixoto, Pinto & Rand D, 2011). This is obtainable by offering training programs on the most effective skills that are capable of competing in the global scene. The National Tourism Strategy besides activities such as marketing and promotions carries this out (David & Else 2007).
The National Strategic Plan for Tourism (PENT) of 2007-15, was established in Portugal’s tourism sector by government in 2006. This particular policy was critical to the establishment of an effective framework that would assist the government monitor, review and support tourism activities. Moreover, in April 2013, the government conducted a review of this policy whereby the Council of Ministries approved resolution No. 24/2013 (Orsi, 2015). This resolution was an important step because it considered the effects of global economic developments as well as any other changes that were related in such developments as far as consumer behavior and that of the other subsequent public and private and private agents was concerned (Dredge & Jenkins, 2012).
The 2013-15 tourism policy was established in order to enable businesses in both private and public sectors to actively participate in decision-making processes of the tourism industry. In addition, this policy was aimed at generating and preserving this Portugal’s cultural assets by way of developing strategies aimed at generating wealth, creating employment opportunities and also providing effective capacities that were ideal in promoting territorial cohesion (Cunha & Maques, 2013). This policy is composed of ten strategic products, eight implementation programs as well as forty projects that are geared towards all activities that can promote strategic tourism products alongside particular country’s tourism regions. In essence, this policy targeted certain viable regions such as Lisbon, the North, the Algarve, the Alentejo, the City of Porto as well as the islands of Azores and Madeira (Cunha & Maques, 2013).
Typically, there are two important bodies that have been established in the Island of Azores and Madeira, for the purposes of overseeing and regulating tourism activities. These two bodies are the Regional Directorates for tourism activities, which operate in both autonomous islands (Cunha & Maques, 2013). Additionally, the state of Portugal created 7 Regional Tourism Promotion Agencies responsible for integrating non-profit private organizations in Portugal’s tourism industry (Perry & Michael 2007). Besides, these agencies also engage in international marketing activities while closely associating with Turismo de Portugal through a contractual relationship (Pexoto et al., 2011). However, important marketing plans as well as campaigns were supported through private and public funding as observed by Turismo de Portugal as laid out in existing strategies or policies in the tourism industry (Garcia, 2014).
Recently, Portugal’s focus on both regulatory and legislative measures on tourism has played a key role in improving the relationship between businesses and the state (Pexoto et al., 2011). This is because they have managed to simplify and modify most administrative procedures necessary for accessing the existing markets as well as for general touristic operations. It is worth noting that in Portugal, tourism sector has been seen to have a great potential as far as job creation is concerned and thus, it is in an ideal position to streamline the relationship between the state and the private sector (Wray, 2009). This was established to eliminate bureaucracy as well as create a friendly environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. Moreover, it is critical in simplifying the legal framework to pave way for recreation services. These simplified legal frameworks are ideal in the process of improving the quality of touristic services. Accordingly, a new viable legislative framework is being developed in the hotel industry (Korsten, 2015).
Influences of policy implementations
There were processes of aimed at re-organizing the administration of regional tourism bodies in 2013. These processes focused on important issues such as the clarification of various roles of stakeholders in Portugal’s tourism development processes (Garcia, 2014). However, parts of the re-organizing strategies focused in particular the specific functions of regional tourism bodies. As such, the destination managers who are ideally responsible for product promotion and development in the domestic market was given emphasis (Thomas & Augustyn, 2007). This is in addition to private sector’s management strategies on regional bodies that was strengthened as a result of these re-organizing strategies.
Hence, it is plausible to say that such re-organizing strategies represented the transposition to the model of management of public entities, as far as the creation of international promotion model of 2003 was concerned (Garcia, 2014). This in effect turned private sector to be an effective partner in the processes aimed to promote external regional destinations. Moreover, such reforms were critical in allowing prudent allocation of resources as well as reducing costs to align Portugal’s tourism sector with the current economic environment.
For effectiveness of any tourism strategy in Portugal, the stimulus of innovation is critical. This is why Turismo de Portugal, launched a three-year project aimed at establishing effective cooperation between networks for tourism’s research and developments in 2011 (Pexoto et al., 2011). Additionally, this project was aimed at mobilizing all university’s capacity in research activities on tourism sector for the purposes of ensuring competitiveness and sustainability. Such networks have also played critical roles in promoting workshops and seminars that aim to integrate public and private companies as well as scientific and academic communities with the aim of developing new business ideas (Williams, 1998).
As a follow-up on the existing network, currently there is a tourism enterprise on the web which is a new project aimed at developing Portugal’s tourism companies presence in the web (Orsi, 2015). This new project also aims at bringing together tourism associations and companies, technological providers also regional tourism organizations. Furthermore, this project is also charged with evaluation processes on technological maturity of all tourism business in both private and public spheres. This is besides disseminating best practices as well as stimulating viable collaborations that mostly targets SMEs. Both I.P and Turismo de Portugal are set to launch programs that develop emerging tourism experiences through innovations and entrepreneurship (Carvalho, 2015). The programs are set to select the most viable business ideas that are capable of creating solid business plans as well as be able to approach investors and clients. This means that there will be eighty projects that are more likely to benefit because of such programs, immediately after the implementation of the first phase (Wray, 2009).
In November 2012, both I.P and Turismo de Portugal released their fourth published sustainability report mainly focused on all tourism sustainable concerns. This particular report included all other stakeholders as it sought to include third parties from other sectors closely related to the tourism sector in the process of adopting practices that are more sustainable (Calvalho, 2015). It is worth noting that the sustainability report was directed towards the human resource management teams in Portugal’s tourism sector. It also encouraged other close stakeholders to actively participate as spelled out in the National Strategic Plan for Tourism policy (Wray, 2009).
There are a network of fourteen tourism and hospitality schools with a fifty years’ experience that are responsible for providing national tourism standard for the professional education on tourism (Cunha & Maques, 2013). Moreover, training policies on human resource have been established or created in the tourism sector as a result of extensive investments by the government. These investments have mainly been directed towards domestic media campaigns also on professional training with the main aim of not only promoting the importance of tourism but also its dignity as well. According to National Strategic Plan for tourism policy, all courses including professional trainings are supposed to be dully accepted by Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (Calvalho, 2015).
Euro crisis and policy creation
The government of Portugal stressed on the importance of policy creation in the processes of improving the poor economic conditions that were looming in 2013.It is important to note that these policies played crucial roles in eliminating European Union’s economic crisis that was present in 2013. Most countries in the EU were experiencing challenges in the tourism sectors such as in employment where there were jobs available only for seasonal or part-time jobs that were underpaid (Thomas & Augustine, 2007). This is because during that period, food services as well as accommodations were mainly seasonal. This essentially meant that only irregular working hours were available for the job seekers such as in the evenings, night times or during Sundays (Thomas & Augustine, 2007). As a result, these economic challenges contributed largely to a rapid staff turnover in most European Union’s tourism sectors (Varanasi’s & Burgess, 2008).
For instance, established policies led to an improvement in overnight stays in hotels registered a total of 49.9 million guests with a 57.8% international overnight guest in similar establishments as well as hotels that totaled to about 9.3 million guests in 2014 (Pexoto et al., 2011). The number of international overnight guests in hotels including similar establishments totaled to about 32.1 million in 2014, meaning that the tourism sector had recorded a 9% rise from the previous year (Wray, 2009). On the other hand, data suggested a 12.8% increase in domestic overnight stays of about 8 million in the hospitality industry from the previous year (Garcia, 2014).
In Portugal tourism sector, international tourism is represented by 70% of the total tourist demand while the remaining 30% percent accounts for the domestic market. Amongst the top leading international sources of market for Portugal is the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and France (Pexoto et al., 2011). In the year 2014, the international travel receipts increased by 12.4% at an approximate EUR 10.4 billion. In this case, about 46.6% was represented by the total value of services that were exported while about 14.8% represented the total value of goods and services that were exported during that period (Garcia, 2014).
The ministry of Economy houses is responsible in the regulation and monitoring of functions performed by the Secretary of State for Tourism in Portugal as well as those performed by the National Tourism Authority (Garcia, 2014). This is the body that is wholly responsible in the processes of policy implementation on tourism sector. Typically, policy implementation processes are normally conducted at national levels and then reported to the Secretary of State on Tourism affairs. Portugal’s National Authority is commonly referred to as Turismo de Portugal and is in charge of overseeing important processes such as improvements, promotions and sustainable activities in the tourism sector (Orsi, 2015).
Moreover, it operates twelve tourisms and hospitality schools while at the same time coordinates all seventeen tourism promotion teams’ activities in any available source markets. The main goal of this tourism body is to foster and enhance tourism infrastructure and also oversee the development of critical human resource training, coordinate international and domestic promotions of Portugal, support and enhance investment opportunities in the tourism sector as well as inspect and regulate any gambling activities (Orsi, 2015).
It is important to note that the Commission for the Strategic Orientation on tourism is critical in the process of bringing together all ministries that are indirectly or directly related to tourism (Wray, 2009). This is aimed at ensuring that there is inter-departmental coordination of tourism in implementation activities and processes as far as the National Tourism Strategy is concerned. For instance, there are five Regional Tourism Bodies at Portugal’s regional levels such as the law corporate bodies that are defined by territorial scopes that are specific (Cunha & Marques, 2013). These bodies are important in the tourism sector because they act as destination management organizations that are defined by administrative and financial autonomy. In addition, they are charged with domestic marketing as well as product development while closely cooperating with Turismo de Portugal through a contractual type of relationship (Carvalho, 2015).
Portugal implemented other significant policies such as the Tourism Satellite Account that is particularly used for the reference year 2000. These accounts are important for the operations in tourism sector as they normally publish important tourism data on regular basis. Currently, it has published a series between 2000 up to 2010 where the latest data or figures are used in making backward projections in reference to 2006 year (Carvalho, 2015). Moreover, there are a set of indicators that are being established for the purposes of monitoring functions as part of sustainable efforts. They are complemented by annual surveys on social responsibility as well as best practices in the entire tourism sector.
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