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.