With the Azores, an autonomous archipelago of Portugal situated in the mid-Atlantic, recognised as a top destination for adventure travel by the World Travel Awards, Breaking Travel News here chats with local tourism chief, Luis Capdeville Botelho, about the prestigious honour
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations - Azores Tourism Association has been recognised as Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards. How does it feel to have won?
Luis Capdeville Botelho: In recent years there have been more and more distinctions and awards received by our destination, which proves that our international reputation is increasingly strengthened.
It is always with enthusiasm, pride and satisfaction that we receive awards like this, with a high-level of associated promotion. In fact, this is another way to publicise our destination worldwide, with emphasis on adventure tourism, which is undoubtedly a seal of our region in terms of hospitality.
BTN: How useful are accolades such as the World Travel Awards for promoting destinations such as the Azores?
LCB: We are talking about an entity that recognises and promotes, internationally, the examples and the excellence of tourist destinations and agents of the sector, whose winners are selected by the general public and by more than 200 thousand professionals from 160 tourism countries from all over the world.
Due to its importance, there is no doubt that the Azores, as previously mentioned, can only benefit from prizes like this one.
BTN: What is on offer from an adventure tourism perspective in the Azores – what makes it so special?
LCB: In recent years, a very significant investment has been made in the product structuring component, mainly in those directly related to nature, as they are the most sought after by the tourist profile that chooses the Azores as a holiday destination.
The Azores have the ideal characteristics in view of this new reconfiguration of tourism, where travellers look for quiet places, of impressive beauty and with a natural heritage that allows them to have adventure experiences in contact with nature.
We are a destination of experiences, on land and sea, and a destination of emotions with so many products to offer.
In our safe and clean waters it’s possible to do whale watching, dive in unique spots making yourself more addicted throughout each experience.
On land the adventure continues! From several walking trails and cycling routes through out ancient volcanoes. Canyoning in some of the best places in Europe makes you feel full of adrenaline.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in the destination currently? Are there hopes for a return to something like normality next year?
LCB: We are not expecting a return to something like normality, but creating new ways of enjoying Azores.
In April, European Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “We have to reinvent the tourism of tomorrow. The pandemic evoked the need to have a resilient and reinvented sector, adapted to economic, environmental and technological realities. We must have sustainable tourism, adapted to the European ecological pact, which avoids overcrowding and focuses on proximity.”
This may be a new global approach to the sector, but for the Azores, this was the path we chose to take in recent years, anticipating a set of organisation and planning work in defence of the territory and the sector, being in line with the measures that today they are required of all tourist destinations worldwide.
In this new reality we are in, these nine islands distinguish themselves by the security they offer: all visitors are tested before entering, preventing the spread and contagion of the coronavirus.
In addition to the security issues that are required, we are an example of good practices in the area of sustainability, with a very positive international notoriety, for having affirmed ourselves, in the tourist market, as the first and only archipelago in the world, and the only region in Portugal, with the sustainable destination certification.
Naturally, this certification enhances our attractiveness and, consequently, its success as a world reference tourist destination.
A positioning that meets the motivations of those who decide to travel: opting for destinations that offer health security conditions associated with a massless rest and leisure offer, and with high contact with nature, where you can breathe fresh air and where you can experience stunning landscapes.
These factors will be very important in the decision-making of tourists, often placing themselves ahead of the price factor and, in this context, we believe that the Azores are very well positioned.
Find out more about the Azores Tourism Association on the official website.
Images: Armando Jorge Mota Ribeiro