Interview with Magdalena Osmola, Marketing & Communications Director at Vale do Lobo

Who are Vale de Lobo's target audience and how will it adapt in the coming years to cater for new cultural and behavioural trends?

Due to the complexity and scale of the project, Vale do Lobo audiences cover a wide array of different profiles. This can range from a typical golfer travelling in a group of friends (with a slightly limited spending budget) up to ultra-high net worth individuals looking at purchasing one of the last available oceanfront plots and/or luxury villas. Our offer is very diverse and thanks to that we are able to cater for various tastes. Traditionally, the resort has become a synonym of premium living – focused strongly on golf, beach and family. This is still extremely relevant, especially relating to our facilities, indisputably stunning location, security and seamless access. However, with the notion of luxury evolving, we need to additionally recognize different needs and cater for ever changing client expectations. This is a topic very close to my heart as I have been providing commentary on recent cultural and behavioural trends across travel focused conferences. What I like to refer to as ‘new luxury’ is a concept where people right now start looking for much more than just expensive ‘things’ and purchases (butler services, champagne, caviar, designer clothes, sports cars etc.) … the new concept of luxury goes far beyond that and represents in the first place pursuit of happiness, constant journey towards self-optimisation, health, inner peace, self-actualization, need for community-feel and common purpose.

At Vale do Lobo we recognize the need of providing the right offer and solutions to always stay one step ahead of the curve. New set of identity characteristics certainly matches the ‘new luxury’ and new consumer trends which strongly affect current buying patterns.

A few of those key themes which we are already putting emphasis on include:

  • LOCATION/NATURE – We benefit from direct access to 2km of sandy beach with a focus on being in touch with nature, ocean, fauna and flora. We are bringing to life the newest and hottest trends such as ‘Nature as Medicine’. We are taking full advantage of our beautiful location offering more outdoor programmes and marketing these to new audiences more creatively. Recent reports show that 90pc of time being spent indoors with around 55pc of the global population living in urban areas, leading to the rapid rise of the ‘nature economy’. However, it is important to emphasize the notion of ‘hideaway’ and ‘top getaway spot’ as opposed to ‘a place where celebrities go to’ – it is a place where guests (including celebrities) can simply rest, relax and ‘enjoy missing out’. It is about disconnecting from some of the daily routine and stressful lifestyles. We want to promote local walking trails, the unquestionable beauty of Vale do Lobo, its sunsets and sunrises, its proximity to natural reserves and the emotions which nature evokes in all of us.

  • COMMUNITY-FEEL – This is one of the most vibrant trends in hospitality nowadays. This centres around creating common area and space for people bound by a purpose/cause. Community-feel is certainly our resort’s huge competitive advantage. Our owners love the lifestyle and vibe here, they form hobby groups, they bond and build friendships for life. This was clearly demonstrated at our recent Summer Party where more than 500 people gathered until the early hours in the morning. We have many multi-generational families amongst the resort members, and many with truly distinct stories who cherish community living.

  • WELLBEING/ACTIVE LIVING – A holistic trend which should not only be associated with medicine, spas and health centres. This incorporates all that Vale do Lobo has to offer in relation to lifestyle. Wellbeing is promoted as the ultimate way to achieve happiness for the guests/residents. This is the strongest motivational force in current market and consumer decision making processes. This notion also includes experiences – authentic and local. We should remember that more traditional areas of tourism activities such as golf are indeed very strongly linked with the concept of wellbeing. Golf is the ultimate leisure activity bringing health benefits - exercise and being outside - together with the social aspect. Other sports such as tennis, walking and cycling offer the same ‘wellbeing’ benefits. In 2020 we have planned for several wellbeing focused workshops and courses to be provided to our owners and visitors ranging from mindful movement, to meditation, to breathwork, to qi gong. But even more to come!

  • SPORTS – There is a growing market for sports which form a big part of the active-living concept. At Vale do Lobo we already offer golf, tennis, padel, running and cycling but we are also looking forward to introducing many new angles. We want to promote sport for fun and sport as a purpose – we have ideal conditions for organizing hugely popular endurance races at the resort such as triathlons, duathlons and obstacle races.

  • TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCES – We are currently working on bringing out the essence of the Vale do Lobo experience. We are focusing on ‘experiences’ which to enhance the lives of guests/property owners on the journey of self-actualization. It is about facilitating and guiding – to become the best versions of themselves. It is about framing the current offer within the idea of enhancement. For example, we are introducing new workshops within the concept of eating local, conscious-living, sustainability, meditation, mindfulness, running clubs, tennis courses, talks and seminars within themes such as graceful-aging and stress reduction. All of the above represent key ingredients for a truly fulfilling life.

How closely do you work with other firms across region and would the local tourism sector benefit from greater cooperation?

We work with many different local and regional providers including ground services, local authorities and operators to name a few. Strong cooperation is key to the success of the region. I always emphasize that we are not in a business of selling real estate or rooms but selling and promoting the ‘destination’. This can only be done when joining forces with the rest of the industry. Algarve has everything in order to become a hub for wellbeing. It benefits from a stunning natural location with amongst the best air quality in Europe. It is perfect for active living and sports such as paddle-boarding, surfing, sailing, golf, tennis, cycling and walking. The Algarve is also considered very spiritual with endless workshops and classes from pranayama meditation to reiki healing to guided meditative walks or even activate breathwork sessions. There are many centres and teachers who chose Algarve as their permanent residence due to amazing weather and likeminded people. It further benefits from fresh, organic and sustainably sourced food. However, I still see a lot of disconnect in the way that travel businesses operate in the region. There is a lot of ‘trying to understand’ new concepts but sometimes lack of good implementation. Things are too often done ‘as usual’. There needs to be a better understanding of the wellbeing concept as a much wider term. Specifically, Food & Beverage areas in many establishments still needs a lot of work. It is not only about providing healthy options and catering for dietary requirements or organizing detox workshops, staff members must also be well informed and make guests feel comfortable about choices they are making. Algarve is synonymous with healthy food. In fact, what can be healthier than freshly grilled fish and organic vegetables?

Who would you encourage to attend the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference and why is the event beneficial for your business and the wider region?

This conference is for everyone from across the tourism sector – from individual hotels, restaurants or experience providers right up to regional DMCs or governmental organisations. I think it is important to have a good selection of public and private companies. And participants should not be only limited to marketing area – even more so, we need to see sales and operational side of businesses moving towards the new trends and applying these in future strategies.

Interview with João Ministro, Executive Director at Proactivetur

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Who are Proactivetur's key partners and what initiatives are you working on to promote responsible tourism, eco-tourism and creative tourism in the Algarve?

In our small agency, we focus on a tourism offer strongly related to the Algarve territory and people living there. This can be seen not only in our programs and products, but also in special projects we develop in Algarve (for example Projecto TASA www.projectotasa.com - to preserve traditional crafts). As part of our business model we work with more than 100 partners, almost 20 international suppliers (Tour Operators) from which we welcome our clients plus 80 local companies (small rural accommodations, transfer service, restaurants) who are part of our programs. Our international partners are mostly expert agencies in areas including walking, nature and cultural tours, as well as creative experiences, mixing local traditions and outdoor activities. All of them focus on a touristic offer strongly related to nature, culture, people and creativity with a firm commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Many of them have their own sustainability programs which we are part of.

Our local partners are mostly situated in the mountain regions of Algarve, in small rural villages where they help stimulate trade. In our programs we always aim to establish a strong connection with the local communities. A large part of the price of our programs (60-70pc) is directly injected into the local economy. We always look to include local products and local people in our programs in order to give back to these local territories. For example, with our walking tours we use local accommodation exclusively in the villages where the trails are. We integrate craft workshops into our tourism programs so tourists can experience a genuine moment with a local person. Finally, we are partner with local organisations who support the maintenance and preservation of local resources, namely Almargem or Rota Vicentina. We support them and their mission. We are also a co-funder of a local development cooperative for the inland regions called QRER (www.qrer.eu) with a mission to support sustainable development for inland regions of Algarve.

What in your view are the Algarve's greatest assets and can more be done to embrace the local culture and engage local communities?

Algarve is one of the richest regions in Portugal in terms of biodiversity and culture (including crafts, gastronomy). It has a diverse landscape and due to its relatively small size visitors can get in contact with all it has to offer with ease. To provide an indication, almost 40pc of the region is classified or protected by European and national legislation for nature conservation (including Natura 2000, natural parks, etc). This is remarkable! But many tourist and travel agents from the region are still not aware of this or interested in it. There remains a lack of commitment to ensure the preservation and promotion of these values. We must engage the tourism sector with greater conviction and promote the local culture and natural resources. We must also engage with local communities and inform and educate about the exclusivity and rarity of many of our resources, by explaining the crucial importance of these aspects in tourism sustainability and of course, to engage them in programs and products that can support a responsible relationship with those aspects. There must be a win-win relationship - the tourism agents must win, but it’s crucial that above all the territory also wins. And that’s something important to explain to the industry.

What must the Algarve region do to develop a truly sustainable tourism model?

Algarve is a very special region. But it is also a very sensitive one. We have problems with water resources, forest fires, abandonment of the countryside, soil desertification, mass construction in sensitive areas, among others. Note for example there are "two Algarves in one" - the coastline and the interior/inland. One is strongly occupied and other becoming depopulated, yet it is not so far from the coastline - just 30km! All these issues directly and indirectly affect tourism in Algarve. We must be aware of it. That’s the first step in the definition of a sustainable tourism model. Also, we must accept that there are limits and regulations that must be respected and implemented. Finally, we must have a political commitment strong enough to ensure the definition and implementation of a sustainable model for the region. This is, for me, the most important and crucial aspect, but also the most difficult to achieve.

What are you hoping to benefit from the Algarve Tourism Conference and how important are events like this for the region?

We hope to meet new people and professionals interested in sustainability, responsible tourism and working in responsible programs that can achieve all things I’ve outlined above. I also hope this conference can contribute to the discussion of sustainable tourism model for the region and a better relationship with local resources and communities. Knowledge is something crucial in all sectors of society. And tourism is not an exception. So, these events are essential for ensuring a strong and sustainable tourism industry in Algarve. Not only for all professionals but also for the politic decision makers in the region.

Interview with Ana Sepulveda, Managing Partner at 40+Lab

What are your key services at 40+Lab and how does your work relate to tourism in the Algarve?

40+ Lab is a business consultant specialising in the economics of longevity and people over 40. Our focus is to work with our customers to transform their business so that they fully capitalise on the potential of this specific demographic. In a nutshell, we operate in two major strands: in the internal strand of organisations, so that they are age friendly organisations, integrating all generations and making the most of each other's assets; and we operate in the business development aspect. Here we help form strategies to develop a range of products and services specifically dedicated to the economics of longevity.

We have a cross-cutting offer - future scenario design and innovative concepts - and a knowledge centre, the result of our research and our worldwide network. We are currently part of a working group linked to the Portuguese Network of Healthy, Intelligent and Friendly Environments and a working group linked to the University of Faro, whose mission is to make the Algarve an Age Friendly region. This means that we are deeply committed to the development of the longevity economy in the Algarve, and the development of its ‘assets’ in this area – of which tourism is a key element. This work involves coordinating different stakeholders so that the region has a strategy involving people, economic agents and local government in order to prioritise its unique assets with the greatest developmental potential. In this sense our contribution to Algarve tourism is to help deliver an innovative and sustainable vision for the future.

Senior Living and Senior Tourism forms a key theme at the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference. How would you assess Portugal's future potential in these areas in light of Europe's ageing population?

The idea of positioning Portugal as the ‘Florida of Europe’ is not new. For many years people have discussed developing the national economy in line with its geo-economic position, taking full advantage of the Atlantic axis. A pillar of this economy is the longevity of its people and what this longevity entails, in terms of their needs and motivations.

This means that Portugal has a number of positive growth characteristics, which are directly related to the potential of both senior living and senior tourism. Proof of this is the increase in the number of new residents, over 50 years of age with strong financial resource. Portugal is a country with good weather, good accessibility and telecommunications coverage. Much of its exports are based on tourism and which, in terms of senior living, have been the target of interest and investment from international funds. Therefore, the potential is large and effective.

However, the supply side requires consistent innovation while simultaneously catering for people's evolving needs and demands. Understanding how demand and society will change and how new investments are distinguished from what already exists will be critical in a scenario of potential overqualification.

How well adapted is the Algarve specifically for the Longevity Economy and how can it improve?

The Algarve is one of 40+Lab’s major tourism regions, if not the main one. It has also been the one that has long attracted foreign tourists. Today it accommodates foreigners from many different nations, but it is still far from being well adapted to the specificities of the longevity economy. It will be necessary to re-explore the territory and consider each city in order - in some cases recovering their original characteristics and appeal. There is also an education process which needs to be undertaken better informing tourism agents of the advantages of senior non-seasonal tourism.

I notice the effort that some municipalities are making towards becoming ‘age-friendly’ municipalities, as well as the work that is being done to make this a reference region in certain areas, for instance Coimbra and Porto, and even in the Centro region. Portugal as a region is starting to focus its attention on the development of the longevity economy. However, I unaware of an inter-municipal strategy that looks at the longevity economy across all its various fronts. If this is not already in place I strongly recommend it.

40+Lab recently launched 'Associação Age Friendly Portugal'. What are the key objectives of this new association?

Associação Age Friendly Portugal was inspired by the Age Friendly Ireland Association, whose work I have been following for many years. The association was set up this September with the purpose of making Portugal an Age Friendly country, and to drive innovation in this area. It is an initiative being led by 40+Lab in association with other national companies and an American firm. We know that the Longevity Economy will be one of the most relevant areas of the world economy in the years to come. We also know that it is critical for Portugal to have a strategy and a growth plan, given the impact of population longevity and still very low birth rates. Age Friendly Portugal aims to become an influencing agent of the national reality, and a provider of strategic and actionable knowledge. It further aims to establish itself as a bridge between several European and world entities that act in the world economic ecosystem of longevity.

What attracted you to this year's Algarve Tourism Conference and why is it valuable to the 40+Lab brand?

40+Lab’s presence at the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference is recognition of our work, know-how and investment in the network of Portuguese-Irish entrepreneurs. The conference will help put our purpose into practice, as we promote sustained and future transformation across the region. In addition, it’s a continuation of our bet on the development of the Algarve as an Age Friendly region - positive and intergenerational.

Our involvement alongside other partners within this community is also a way to raise 40+lab’s profile and broaden our reach from Lisbon. However, while it is a way of giving, it is also a way of receiving. It is very important for us to see and hear from those who are working in the same area as us and / or related areas, in order to be both well aligned and well informed.

Interview with Nazir Sacoor, CEO at Longevity Wellness Worldwide

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Longevity is world-renowned for its state-of-the-art wellness centres in the Algarve. How important is this location both to the Longevity brand and the delivery of advanced wellness and preventative diagnostics, therapies and programmes?

The Algarve has been positioning itself in a structured and systematised way within the phenomenon of health & wellness tourism due to its natural advantages of an exceptional climate with over 300 days of sunshine per year, a rich, diverse culture, fine coastal beaches and fantastic golf courses combined with two equally important factors: safety and hospitality.

The Longevity concept and brand is boosted by this amazing region to deliver unique programs with solutions of relaxation, revitalisation and regeneration of health, rebalancing body and mind in a holistic way and focusing on disease prevention and maintaining optimal health.

How can the region's tourism industry work together to capitalise on the global wellness tourism movement in terms of positioning and resource?

The wellness tourist motivations and decision making process is much more centered at a product by product level than on a regional wellness reputation, except for very specific examples like Baden Baden in Germany. The region can help individual wellness products by improving year round flight connections and cultural events, roads infrastructure, safety and by fostering a collective promotional effort in the main source markets for wellness tourism such as UK, Benelux, Germany, Middle East and Russian speaking countries.

What attracted Longevity to the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference and what value does it provide to your business?

As the pioneer in wellness tourism in Portugal and of the main international respected brands in this sector of Health & Wellness Tourism our presence in the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference was imperative and we could not decline the invitation from the organizing entity. It is an opportunity to share Longevity’s DNA: Wellness.

Entrevista com João Fernandes, Presidente da Região de Turismo do Algarve

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A conferência de turismo do Algarve regressa pelo segundo ano. A nível de importância, como considera um evento como este, em termos de unir o setor turístico da região, estimulando o debate e criando parcerias para o crescimento futuro?

Sempre defendi que o setor do turismo algarvio seria tão mais forte, quanto a nossa capacidade para planearmos e anteciparmos problemas, assim como para falarmos de forma focada, articulada e conjugada.

A fórmula proposta para esta conferência parece-me correta, no sentido de percorrermos esse caminho de fortalecimento do setor e de capacitação dos seus agentes e, a julgar pela mobilização conseguida na anterior edição, bem como o resultado da reflexão aí promovida, esta organização poderá vir a contribuir para a definição da agenda regional.

Em perspectiva, qual a importância do sector turístico do Algarve para a economia nacional?

O Algarve é há mais de 40 anos seguidos o destino em Portugal com maior número de dormidas turísticas de Portugueses e de estrangeiros. Não obstante a enorme dificuldade em avançar com um valor exato que permita dar resposta a esta pergunta, quer pela complexidade em circunscreve (e medir) aquilo que é consumo turístico e o que não é, bem como pela necessidade de termos uma Conta Satélite do Turismo regional, há vários indicadores que nos permitem percecionar a importância do turismo algarvio para a economia nacional.

Primeiramente aquilo que se estima ser o peso do turismo em Portugal no PIB nacional – mais de 8%. Ainda que não haja uma decomposição regional destes valores, todos temos a consciência do enorme contributo que o Algarve dá para o todo do turismo nacional e que se traduz, por exemplo, nos mais de 4 milhões de hóspedes, ou nas quase 19 milhões de dormidas registadas anualmente. Em 2018, de acordo com o INE e com o Banco de Portugal, o Algarve representou cerca de um terço das dormidas e 30% dos proveitos em empreendimentos turísticos. Do lado da oferta, a realidade não se altera, sendo no Algarve que estão localizadas mais de 35% das camas em hotelaria.

Perspetivando este quadro geral e tendo em linha de conta de que se trata de um setor eminentemente exportador (muitos dos turistas são estrangeiros, representando entrada de divisas), creio que é fácil assumir o enorme contributo que turismo algarvio dá para a economia regional. De acordo com o Economista chefe do Novo Banco, Dr. Carlos Almeida Andrade, o Algarve é responsável por quase 50% do Valor Acrescentado Bruto do setor do turismo em Portugal.

O tema dos 2019 centros de conferência em torno de "novos mercados de turismo para novos tempos". Onde se encontram as oportunidades-chave no futuro para esta região e como deve o Algarve posicionar-se a fim de maximizar o seu potencial em pleno?

A estratégia que temos vindo a seguir nos últimos anos, creio que ilustra bastante bem aquilo que preconizamos para a região relativamente a esse assunto. A nossa aposta tem-se centrado na conjugação básica de dois fatores: primeiro, demonstrar que o Algarve, para além das praias que lhe conferiram (e continuam a conferir) grande notoriedade, tem um leque alargado de elementos que permitem, a cada visita, descobrir coisas novas independentemente de se ficar no litoral ou no interior, no sotavento ou no barlavento; simultaneamente, temos trabalhado numa maior valorização da nossa autenticidade e da nossa genuinidade. Elementos como a Dieta Mediterrânica, ou a produção cultural regional (esta, muito alavancada pelo programa 365 Algarve) têm sido autênticas bandeiras na nossa promoção.

Em termos internacionais quão forte é a marca turística do Algarve actualmente, e o que mais será necessário. fazer, para promover a versatilidade do destino?

A marca Algarve é, inquestionavelmente, bastante forte, mas que pode ser ainda mais valorizada, sobretudo com a melhoria e a diversificação da oferta.

Como referi anteriormente, temos vindo a trabalhar num longo e contínuo processo de diversificação, desmistificando um pouco o preconceito de que o Algarve é só sol e praia e, quase consequentemente, é só de verão. Nenhuma dessas premissas é verdadeira, embora seja verdade que nosso produto estrela é, como continuará a ser o sol e praia. O que as pessoas têm vindo a descobrir é que existe bastante mais para além das lindas praias; que temos lindíssimos trilhos de percursos pedestres e cicláveis, com vistas de cortar a respiração; que o Algarve tem hoje vinhos de excepção; que na região existe uma grande preocupação com a valorização da nossa gastronomia regional; que aqui encontrarão magníficos hotspots para a prática do birdwatching; que em época baixa, já na sua 4º edição, temos uma programação cultural bastante diversificada e abrangendo todo o território, com a designação de 365 Algarve.

Estes são, na nossa opinião, os elementos que ajudam a valorizar e diversificar a marca Algarve.

Interview with Peter Robinson

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Can you explain the ProMatura business model and how you differentiate from competitors?

Promatura is run differently to every other ‘research & consultancy’ company in the property sector. We are unique, having spent the last 35 years creating and honing our working practices and data sets - not just in our country of origin, the USA, but also Europe. We identify and talk to specific customers who may well become your next clients. Within Portugal we recently completed a major research study of several Northern European buyer markets for a Portuguese land owner. We used proprietary tools to do this. We undertake conjoint analysis that gives a very accurate set of detailed results informing every aspect of what is wanted and will be paid-for on a project.

With your extensive experience can you help break down the various senior living segments and explain where future opportunities lie within the Algarve?

Delegates at the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference will be well aware of the substantial opportunity presented by the ‘baby boomers’ generation which is retiring, and enjoying 10 years more life than 50 years ago. This group are wealthier now than any cohort before them and they are a demanding, relatively sophisticated generation with a pan-European property perspective. Countries in the warmer, more pleasant Mediterranean sunbelt have seen many northern Europeans move to live part or full time, particularly in the Algarve. The Algarve is frequently cited as one of the top spots to retire in Europe, not least due to its lower living costs. The key opportunity for the Algarve is now to take this to scale with significant and important steps in resort development along the ‘retirement village’ model. 

There are major opportunities right across the senior living segment which can be broken down into several areas. This includes 'active adult', 'independent living', 'assisted living', 'memory care' and 'nursing care'. It is important for businesses within the Algarve region to clearly understand which segment they are either in or want to be in. The ProMatura delegation on this year's senior living panel will be addressing key discussion points in order to harness the full potential this market, offering guidance and insights from around the world, where we have helped deliver projects in multiple countries. We will discuss how much age/lifestage appropriate property stock the Algarve already has (or could be adapted) for the proven needs of an aging population across Europe. We will also explore how land owners, developers, financiers or operators go about determining or proving a robust business model to enter the senior living sector with a new project.

How can businesses and delegates attending the Algarve Tourism Conference, including the likes of land owners, developers, financiers, hospitality and care organisations, benefit from Promatura's expertise?

Each and every company has a road-map to success and ProMatura helps them build the right product at the right price. In the last two years Promatura established an international office in London working with clients in the UK, Portugal and many other destinations outside the USA. Our Predictive Analytics can look at (or hypothetically model) any project anywhere in the world and predict what will work, where and why – expensive mistakes are thus avoided. Markets do differ, but our processes work anywhere, backed by the most extensive empirical data available. ProMatura buyer research groups demonstrate high levels of continuing engagement: giving potential to test creative marketing concepts before launch, also to become among the first residents to buy-into a project.

ProMatura uniquely plugs the gap in buyer understanding and likely actions: what do actual potential residents specifically want and what will they really pay for it? We remove the guesswork, provide concept ‘insurance’ and have saved our clients many millions $£€ in mistakes over 35 years: our data, analysis and forecasts proven to closely correlate with actual buyer behaviour. Every site is unique and we help unlock the value in it with the right, proven, product mix, cost reductions and advise on prices which has seen successful price uplifts of upto 20%.  We provide the project finance team a sophisticated demand/unit/prices spreadsheet accurately forecasting sales by month for the development which is a great aide in ensuring the project is appropriately financed.

Algarve Tourism Conference - Interview with Andrew Coutts

1.What are the key objectives of the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference and who are the chief organisers?

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The second instalment of the Algarve Tourism Conference will take place at the Hilton Vilamoura Resort on Friday September 27, 2019. It will deliver in-depth analysis of the Algarve’s tourism sector, identifying key areas for growth and strategies for sustainable development, with a key focus on health, medical, wellness and senior tourism. The conference is organised by the ILM Real Estate Group in association with the Ireland Portugal Business Network (IPBN) and Dengun Digital Agency. The Anglo-Portuguese ILM Real Estate Group is a leader in sustainable tourism delivering a broad package of real estate management support, geared towards the hospitality sector. Meanwhile, the IPBN focuses on driving bi-lateral trade between Portugal and Ireland, including leisure and tourism markets. Faro-based Dengun Digital Agency is one's Portugal's leading marketing and event management firms.

 

2. Who are the key speakers and what will be discussed?

More than 25 expert speakers will appear at this year’s event including Algarve Region Tourism Board (RTA) President João Fernandes and Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) President Francisco Serra. Other high-profile participants include ProMatura, GSI Health & Wellness Exchange, Revive Clinic Algarve, Grupo HPA Saude, Longevity, Vale do Lobo, ASPA and Pine Cliffs Resort/UIP.

The full-day conference will specifically address demand-side aspects of emerging tourism markets including current trends, case studies, potential source markets and ‘new consumer’ behaviour. A revolving panel of leading tourism and travel players, marketeers, technology experts, tourist lodging operators, real estate operators, hotel, resort and residential developers will further review business-related, supply-side opportunities in the Algarve. 

Key themes include:

·        The opportunity for an Algarve circular economy and a sustainable tourism sector

·        Health Tourism

·        Medical Tourism

·        Wellness

·        Senior Living

 

3. What makes the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference different?

The Algarve Tourism Conference has established itself as one of Portugal’s leading annual business events attracting an international audience. It has a clear focus on the Algarve tourism market which continues to offer significant investment opportunities which have perhaps been overshadowed by the rapid recent development elsewhere in country, including Lisbon and Porto. There are many sites in the Algarve which retain outline planning permission, dating back to the recession, which are now ripe for exploration. The conference provides a unique opportunity to shed light on some of the best opportunities within the region’s tourism sector showing how developers can best adapt plans to the change in market trends.

4. This year’s key theme centres around the global ‘Health and Wellness’ travel movement. What is driving this growth?

The health and wellness industry burst into mainstream consumer consciousness a few years ago. It’s now a multi-billion-Euro industry with businesses and governments piling investment into new strategies, products, experiences, and destinations. Wellness, hospitality, and travel are converging in diverse and unprecedented ways as businesses experiment with new partnerships and models to help travellers incorporate wellness into every aspect of their trips.

Worldwide ‘wellness tourism’ spend is now expected to surpass €900billion by 2022, representing 18pc of the global tourism market. Recent reports from the GWI (Global Wellness Institute) predict wellness tourism trips to grow by 8pc annually reaching €1.2billion by 2022. Meanwhile, Europe is currently topping the polls as the most popular destination for health and wellness travel.

The growth surge is being influenced by a series of factors including an expanding global middle class and growing consumer demand for wellness lifestyles. A rising interest in experiential travel and increasing affordability of flights and travel options are pushing demand.

 

5. Why is the Algarve well positioned to benefit from the rapid expansion of health and wellness travel?

 The €600billion spent globally each year by health and wellness travellers is distributed among many segments of the tourism industry - from food and lodging, to activities, excursions, shopping, and other services. Within each segment, some expenditures may include wellness-focused activities, such as visiting a hot spring, getting a massage, or taking a meditation or fitness class. Other expenditures may be ‘generic’, such as transportation, general food and lodging, or buying souvenirs. As more consumers incorporate wellness into their lifestyles, there are more opportunities for all businesses to capture a share of the spend from these high-value tourists.

 The Algarve could be transformed if it studies this activity closely and successfully harnesses the potential of the global health and wellness movement. It has perfect conditions for health, wellness and active travel as one of the sunniest destinations in Europe with easy access to beaches, oceans and countryside. This opens opportunities for virtually all outdoor activities from water sports like surfing and kayaking to trail-running, hiking and restorative activities such as pilates and yoga. We are also witnessing a surge in professional sports related tourism with world class athletes and clubs increasingly looking to stage training camps in the Algarve.

Our region further benefits from strong local supply chains in areas including technology, sustainability and innovation. It has all the ingredients to become a ‘Mecca’ for health and wellness travellers worldwide. However, the onus is now on the local market to work together and harness the opportunity by creating a robust plan for the years to come.

One of the weaknesses we have observed in the Algarve is the disconnect between key operators within the tourism sector, leading to missed opportunities. Greater communication and cooperation across the sector between these markets would be mutually beneficial. Medical tourism for example remains relatively untapped in our region. We are beginning to see new high-level facilities in the Algarve combining modern and regenerative medicine with advanced wellness and preventative diagnostics, therapies and programmes. This will be an area of major growth in the coming decades. But in order to fully capitalise on these ‘new tourism markets’ for ‘new times’ we must develop a more fluid and connected approach when positioning and packaging tourism products to new consumers.

 

5. Another key focus for the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference is the creation of a ‘Circular Economy’. What exactly is a Circular Economy and how does this relate to the tourism industry.

 A circular economy is a system aimed at minimising waste and making the most of resources. In a circular system resource input and waste such as emission and energy leakage are reduced by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. This can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling. This regenerative approach is in contrast to the traditional linear economy, which has a 'take, make, dispose' model of production. The Algarve is making an active transition to a circular economy. It is laying foundations on which to build a framework for an economy that is resilient and has significant environmental and societal benefits, while simultaneously creating business and economic opportunities. With tourism forming a central pillar of the Algarve economy it is essential that professionals across the industry work in partnership to develop a meaningful plan which not only contributes to the broader pursuit of a circular economy but also capitalises on emerging opportunities in the marketplace.

 

6. Who should attend the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference and why?

 The Algarve Tourism Conference is one of Portugal’s leading tourism events enabling public and private sector professionals to share knowledge and best practice. It provides a platform to discuss larger global trends and the future for our region while pinpointing where the greatest opportunities lie. It also crucially gives delegates access to decision makers, opinion formers and business leaders across the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector. Stakeholders from across Portugal’s tourism sector are being encouraged to attend September’s conference, most notably tourism and travel entrepreneurs and innovators, travel trade and destination management company (DMC) professionals, resort, hotel and tourism development lodging managers and operators, real estate developers and investors, real estate managers and realtors.

 

7. How can participants get involved?

 There are many additional ways participants can get involved, including promotional flyers to exhibition space in the conference hall along with sponsor and partnership opportunities available. For more information on the conference visit https://algarveconference.com For more information on tickets, sponsorship and exhibition space email info@algarveconference.com or call +351 969 196 055

Interview with Aaron Gjellstad, By Andrew Coutts

Has Luxury Frontiers identified specific geographies in Portugal to consider implementing your concept?

Aaron Gjellstad  | Director of Operations  LUXURY FRONTIERS

Aaron Gjellstad | Director of Operations

LUXURY FRONTIERS

LF, in the past, has had tremendous success in sub-Saharan Africa and we are primarily focusing on the exportation of this this expertise and success to the Americas. However, with past projects in Tuscany and Mallorca, and one on the way in Normandy, there is definitely interest and room for growth in Europe. Generally, many of our latest clients are developing in successful, trending destinations with much growth potential, such as Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica or Tulum outside Cancun, Mexico. With Algarve’s recent hype and numerous draws to nature, we find that it too is ripe for small resort development.

 Is it the case that Luxury Frontiers invests in new lodging projects?

 Right now, our focus is to become the world’s most renowned luxury experiential resort designers and developers for hotel owners and brands. As we become the leader in this industry, a case can be made that our work can naturally lead to co-investment opportunities for future projects.

 

What are the critical success factors for your sites? 

Aside from the owner having all full ownership rights and other legal formalities, the site can then be assessed as to what makes it attractive for small eco-resort development. It is ideal if the site has a story that can draw in guests—albeit nature, history, culture, etc. It is also helpful if the site allows for its hospitality operator to curate the guest experience from the moment the guest arrives off their plane, 4x4 vehicle, boat, or in some cases, horse. Added features that truly enhance the leisure aspect of the site could include vistas and vantage points, nearby water features such as streams or waterfalls, and natural and unspoilt vegetation between standalone guest rooms that allows for not only environmental immersion, but also privacy and noise reduction.

 

What are the key characteristics of your business model? 

What sets us apart is that we are a full-service design and development firm, with services spanning from concept development to project management and operations support. Also, our services are geared to upmarket segments, from upscale to ultra-luxury. And last, our focus is on experiential lodging offerings. All three of these factors enable us to be first-movers in this sector globally, as we hope to continue to blaze a trail and provide the latest design and development concepts in eco-resorts.

Copy of Interview with Declan Conway, By Andrew Coutts

How do you value the residential tourism product within the context of the Algarve economy?

Declan Conway    CEO & Founder - Global Sustainability Initiative

Declan Conway

CEO & Founder - Global Sustainability Initiative

The Algarve tourism sector will only increase in value as tourism globally is on the increase, with more middle classes being created across China, Africa and India all seeking new locations to visit. Also the expanding ageing population in Europe and advances in robotics and Artificial Intelligence will expand the population of tourists even further as people have more time on their hands. This will challenge the sector to add new projects and services that are sustainable over the longterm, such as eco-tourism or tourism that focuses on wellness and healthcare. The Algarve has the natural capital, culture and heritage to address this opportunity.

What constraints do you consider exist to the product contributing increased value and weight in the economy?

I don’t see any constraints that can’t be overcome. There does however need to be joined up thinking to plan the Algarve for the decades ahead, where all the elements required to build a thriving and sustainable economy are on the table. The key is blending innovation, community and sustainability together and adopting the principles of truly local and circular economy to the tourism sector and wider economy. For example much of the food needed can be grown locally either on local organic farms or at indoor vertical farms, powered for example by sustainable abundant sources of solar, biomass or wind. Seasonal workers needing access to housing should be provided accommodation that can be used off season for university/ college accommodations and community enterprises and coops are set up to serve community everyday needs not extract all the value for mainly foreign based global brands and corporations. 

 

 What role should sustainability have in the future of the economy?

 Sustainability is the key to the future prosperity of economies and communities. Redesigning the global economic system to deliver this sustainable economy is the single largest economic opportunity available in Portugal and indeed in practically every community globally. Existing supply chains designed around extractive and resource depleting economies are no longer feasible and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced and redesigned quickly. This opens up fantastic opportunities for businesses to participate in this transformation which is required urgently to protect our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

The world is expected to spend about US$90 trillion on infrastructure in the period up to 2030, more than the entire current stock today. Much of this investment will be programmed in the next few years and will be based on Sustainable principles. 

 

Can the Algarve emulate the hi-tec hub evolution of Lisbon and Porto – how to complement or compete?

Yes, the Algarve will provide a complementary addition to the exciting and growing Portugal tech scene. The Algarve has many of the attributes needed to foster a high tech innovation eco system and is similar in many respects to Silicon Valley. Indeed, due to traffic congestion, commuting time to/from the Valley from San Francisco is similar to that between Lisbon and the Algarve. As more and more workers become digital nomads (50% of tech workers will end up self employed), the migration to lower cost locations with better lifestyles makes the Algarve an excellent choice. Recent expansions announced at the Algarve Tech Hub and support of partners like Altice provides the catalysts for this to happen. Tech hubs like Dublin, Berlin and London are also becoming too expensive to live and even harder to hire and retain staff so regional hubs like the Algarve offers plenty of room to expand. The progressive tax policy of the Portugal government also has helped as well as their success in attracting the Web summit to stay a further 10 years in Portugal.

Interview with Robert Green, By Andrew Coutts

What commercial potential do you see for the new generation of Algarve resorts e.g. Ombria and Palmares?

Robert Green    Founder & Managing Director – Sphere Estates

Robert Green

Founder & Managing Director – Sphere Estates

Trends and desires of buyers and investors of second homes in luxury resorts have changed in the last ten years. Today, it’s all about unique and exciting experiences as well as 5* service. The new generation of resorts in the Algarve must now focus on providing a wealth of experiences to suit all ages and types, from families to couples. Those that get the masterplanning correct will enjoy financial success, through high occupancy year-round and increasing hotel and rental rates. The rental market is booming right now so buyers and developers have an opportunity to capitalise on this. Most buyers today expect rental income to more than cover the cost of ownership so resorts that can achieve 4% net yield or above (on smaller units), and at least 2% net yield on larger properties, will fare well.

One of the fastest growing sectors is wellness. Six Senses Duoro Valley (not selling residences) is evidence that a resort no longer needs to be coastal or within a thirty-minute drive from the airport. They have created a destination and as a result, guests from around the world fill the hotel throughout much of the year. Projects such as Ombria, thirty minutes inland, north of Faro airport, will include a Viceroy hotel with branded apartments, and numerous non-branded villas overlooking a beautifully designed golf course and surrounding hills. However, they plan to offer much more than just golf. A world-class spa, sports facilities, restaurants and activities outside the resort, from cycling to village tours, will make Ombria an attractive option for everyone and a means of escaping the hectic urban life back home.

Many of the existing resorts have focused too much attention on golf. Only 30-40% of home owners within a golf resort play the game and fewer people each year have time to play 18-holes. The new generation of resorts will have a central heart that brings people together but also attracts visitors from outside, creating a buzz even in low season…and therefore greater revenue for the developer.

How should the Algarve position and differentiate itself against other holiday home destinations?

The Algarve should position itself as an attractive, less densely developed, alternative to other holiday home destinations, e.g., southern Spain, that offers authentic experiences and a better lifestyle. This means not only marketing the Algarve as a leading golf destination but as a place to retreat to and escape from stress at home. It’s well connected with daily flights from most European cities, making it highly accessible.

The Portuguese golden visa is one of the most attractive of its type worldwide and with non-habitual residency providing pension and income tax benefits, the Algarve is certainly becoming the best place in Europe to invest or retire to.

 

Which non-traditional markets or market segments should Algarve developers be considering?

As mentioned, developers should focus on wellness, a rapidly growing market. Wellness real estate is the new ultra-luxury and is now a $134 billion global industry, which is growing by 6.4% per year. It’s not just about spa treatments. Cosmetic surgery, yoga, extreme sports holidays and organic and healthy dining are all areas of growing interest amongst buyers. Resorts that grow their own organic produce are proving popular (Ombria plans to do just that). Developers therefore need to appeal to a new generation of healthy foodies.