The President of PS-Madeira, Sérgio Gonçalves, believes that it is essential to update the tourist product and improve the remuneration of workers, to ensure the region’s tourism sustainability.
Sérgio Gonçalves, who spoke at the debate promoted by the PS-Madeira’s Studies Office under the theme ‘Tourism: Numbers and Challenges,’ said that tourism represents almost 30% of regional GDP and directly impacts approximately 20% of the region’s employment. He further explained that historically, “Madeira has short periods of growth, followed by longer periods of recession. This creates economic difficulties for companies and those who work within the tourism sector.”
Therefore, in terms of challenges, the focus should be on product requalification, sustainability, and people. “We have to prepare for the future. We know that we cannot exist in a cycle of growth, but we have to manage and reverse the long cycles of recession.
For Sérgio Gonçalves, it is necessary to concentrate on three aspects:
Firstly, on the issue of sustainability, not only with certifications but by looking at the sector as a whole and all that it involves, because tourism impacts severely on other associated sectors.
Secondly, Madeira, as a product has to be carefully managed, because even in times of growth there has been a lack of investment. This he said, was not just about hotels, but also relates to hiking trails, viewpoints, and everything that characterises the archipelago as a unique and genuine holiday destination.
Thirdly, he insisted on the need to pay workers properly. “This is fundamental so that we do not continue to be a land of emigration, and watch Madeira shrink because no one wants to stay here. Even when we have a thriving sector like tourism, we must create the conditions to generate qualified employment in the most diverse areas.”
Luiz Pinto Machado, assistant professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Madeira, was one of the speakers invited to the debate, pointing out the need to improve competitiveness and efficiency within the sector.
Explaining he said, “the loss of efficiency is due to a continued increase in production factor prices and out-of-date average accommodation and RevPar prices. When compared to other regions, our prices are cheaper. This hampers both efficiency and productivity.
Four challenges for Tourism
José Manuel Vicente, assistant professor at the Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies, was another of the guests and discussed the four challenges to tourism. Firstly, in terms of the resilience of the sector, he questioned what kind of tourism Madeira wants: tourism that brings value by adding, or tourism that remains in a short period and does not add value to the region, nor does it have a multiplier effect in other related activities.
Secondly, he pointed out the issue of collaborative work, involving all players, both public and private.
Thirdly, José Manuel Vicente stressed that “those who work in tourism add value” and stressed that “there has to be a strong and continuous commitment to training, education, and training.”
Finally, he argued that the region must remain strongly committed to the promotion of the island and its cultural diversity.
Luisa Paolinelli, the coordinator of the PS-Madeira, Studies Office, explained that this debate aimed to gather contributions from experts to help respond to the challenges facing tourism, a sector that, she stressed, is “central to the region’s economy.”
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