The Algarve Tourism Conference

Medical tourism, Senior living, Wellness Tourism & Authentic travel

Program Curated by Andrew Coutts, CEO ILM Tourism & Hospitality Real Estate Group Portugal and IPBN Algarve Committee member

The conference at the Hilton Vilamoura was built around a theme of ‘health and wellness’ travel. However, wide-ranging discussions involving more than 35 expert speakers and 200 delegates led to a deeper inspection of the Algarve’s broader international brand, and the development of a new ambitious strategy involving the public and private sector.

Co-organiser Andrew Coutts said the region is set to capitalise on the rapidly expanding wellness tourism market – expected to surpass €900billion by 2022. But if more is done to build on existing world-class facilities and assets the location could reinvent its global brand.

“This was a thrilling edition of the Algarve Tourism Conference with a huge amount of knowledge and expertise being shared,” he said. “We are proud to have delivered the second instalment of the conference which is now firmly established as one of the country’s leading annual tourism events. It was particularly heartening to unite public sector entities with major private sector businesses and create an opportunity to connect. However, it remains abundantly clear that the Algarve still has a great deal of untapped potential. It offers so many unique qualities from the gastronomy and culture to the natural wilderness and nature, perennially warm weather and world-class beaches. Not to mention the peace, tranquillity and safety. But in addition, there is a vibrant business scene being built around the pillars of healthcare, wellbeing, senior living, tourism, technology and renewable energy. It’s a very strong mix which lends itself to the creation of a true circular economy aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. While the conference was hooked to wellness travel, we entered new territory. We now need to look way beyond these shores, as Portugal always has, and learn from other world-class regions with similar qualities. There is no reason why the Algarve cannot become a pioneer in sustainable development with the right private sector backing and political will and position itself in a serious sense as the California of Europe.”

The event was delivered by ILM Real Estate Group in association with the Ireland Portugal Business Network (IPBN) and Faro’s Dengun Digital Agency. High-profile participants included HPA Saude Groupo, Longevity, Vale do Lobo, ASPA International, Promatura, GSI Health & Wellness Exchange, Revive Clinic Algarve and Pine Cliffs Resort.

Public sector bosses including the Algarve Region Tourism Board (RTA) President Joao Fernandes and Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) President Francisco Serra, also took to the stage. Mr Serra said a huge amount of work and initiatives are underway across the Algarve and while the region is ripe for development, he urged investors to present proposals fit for an eco-conscious modern age.

Co-organiser Aoife Healy, chair of the Ireland Portugal Business Network (IPBN) and lead partner in national business coaching firm Pathway Consultancy, said a clear and progressive strategy will stimulate greater inward investment and international trade.

“The IPBN saw great value in jointly organising the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference,” she said. “As a group we are geared towards driving trade and investment between Portugal and Ireland. There are many similarities between our nations and there is much we can learn from each other across key sectors including tourism, healthcare, technology, renewable energy and agriculture. There was a strong Irish presence on the day, both on the stage and within the audience which shows the appetite for international collaboration. The IPBN is actively encouraging more Irish firms to capitalise on the attractive exporting and importing conditions in Portugal which has no tariffs or customs procedures. Equally, we are keen to connect more Portuguese businesses to Ireland where there is a wealth of knowledge and talent. We see huge potential within the Algarve business community where we have a highly active committee, backed by our main Lisbon operation which has doubled the network’s membership in the last year.”

The IPBN would particularly like to thank all its members who attended the conference and more particularly Des O'Neill from All Market, Martin Goldmann from ASPA, Antonio Rosa from Blacktower, and Ricardo Caliço from Buymeproperty, all IPBN members, who supported the conference and without whom the conference would not have been possible.

For more information, please contact / (+351) 969 196 055

The IPBN is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland