As a DMC in Porto, it feels incredibly gratifying to see Porto recognised as a fantastic tourist destination – for 2020 it has won the ‘oscar’ for Europe’s Best City Break in the Wold Tourism Awards. In fact this year Portugal itself won the prize for leading Europe’s Leading Destination.
Twenty years ago, it felt like a bit of a mystery why tourism in Portugal outside of the Algarve felt like a bit of a best kept secret, but in the last 10 years or so, Porto (and central and northern Portugal in general) have truly been discovered. It seems like this renaissance is a result of a perfect storm of events – the obvious initial catalyst was Ryanair and then Easyjet opening up destinations from all over Europe which was then supported my massive investment in tourism infrastructure (often backed with EU funding).
That is really only half the story though, because even with this massive increase in incoming tourists, Porto managed to hold on to much of its authenticity and small city feel. Porto still has its higgledy-piggledy cobbled streets with a tiny café or restaurant on every corner, the growing shopping and nightlife districts repurposed traditional buildings rather than knocking them down and starting again to maintain the traditional character and the Port wine industry stayed in the centre of town to give atmosphere and a focus for visitors. Add to all this the natural blessings that Porto has – the southern European climate, a river bisecting the city, nearby beaches and vineyards, fantastic gastronomy, an airport 15 minutes from the city centre, low prices and friendly natives you can see why everyone wants to come to Porto!
For us working in the events industry, the massive influx of tourism spending has been of immeasurable benefit, because it has meant that there are many more places for attendees to stay (particularly four and five star hotels), there are many more destinations for events to be held (large and small) and there are many more destinations flying to Porto. We like to think that Porto has managed its popularity and success extremely well so far, holding on to what made it so popular in the first place, but growing in a sustainable way to service all the new visitors. If you are thinking of holding an event in Porto, please contact us to fall in love with Porto with us!