A more sustainable outlook for Porto's tourism future

  • Porto.

  • Article


On World Tourism Day, which is celebrated on the 27th, the Municipality of Porto presented a new strategy for this sector, focused on positive tourism, with new perspectives, enhancing the attractiveness of the city and ensuring, simultaneously, sustainability for its residents. "We want sustainable tourism, not only in environmental terms, but also that coexists well with the population," said the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, during the presentation of the " Visão de Futuro para a Sustentabilidade do destino Porto" strategy, which took place at Parque das Águas.

Accompanied by the councillor for Tourism and Internationalisation, Catarina Santos Cunha, other councillors from the Executive, the president of the Municipal Assembly, Sebastião Feyo Azevedo, the president of the Regional Tourism Body of Porto and North of Portugal, Luís Pedro Martins, and many other representatives of the Municipal Tourism Council, Rui Moreira assured that the people of Porto "can afford to say what we want or not. The worse is to achieve what we want without getting what we don´t want," he said.

Going back to the time when "Rua das Flores was tearing apart, 'Mouzinho da Silveira' had no possible rehabilitation, Downtown was deserted", the Porto mayor underlined that, back then, "we couldn't be picky". "We couldn't make choices. We wanted tourists, businesses, development. We cannot regret the path we took. Tourism was the accelerator we needed to change the city, in terms of its rehabilitation, its experience, its economy. It has brought obvious advantages for everyone," he added.

After all this time, and considering the new challenges, the Mayor of Porto left one certainty: "We don't want a massification of tourism. We want a more specialised tourism. We want tourists not only to visit Porto, but also discover the city that they passionate about".

"We want to diversify to grow"

The Councillor for Tourism and Internationalisation presented, in detail, the "Visão de Futuro para a Sustentabilidade do destino Porto". "We have created new horizons for this destination," said Catarina Santos Cunha, presenting "Porto as a unique destination, where two major aspects are reconciled in a masterly, balanced and sustainable way: on the one hand, the Porto we all know - genuine, authentic, traditional and an example of hospitality. On the other, the Porto that we are all increasingly recognising as our own - creative, disruptive, modern, international, sustainable, and booming in new industries that are not only localised in the historic centre".

With this strategic document, Municipality of Porto has an ambition: "We want to diversify to grow. First, diversify our target audience, where are they arriving from and why are they arriving," said the councillor, recognising that it is essential to invest in the Asian and American markets, which are still underexplored.

"We aspire for Porto to be a leading international destination, affirming itself as a European city of reference. We want all actions to still lead us to be one of the most competitive and sustainable destinations in the world," she said.

Growth is driven, among other factors, by a rise in visitor profiles - younger generations, premium and luxury segments, increasing the average number of stays, which currently stands at just 2.1 nights - and creating new narratives for the city. "Innovative ways to tell and showcase the city, through new lanes and new branding experiences. We intend to challenge tourists and locals to see Porto from different perspectives, showing less obvious places and activities, demonstrating the versatility of this destination," said Catarina Santos Cunha.

In that sense, it will be constructed, based on studies and surveys, a division of the territory by "bairros"/"quarteirões", for example, more peripheral places, but that are distinguished by gastronomical, cultural, or natural surroundings; less known places, but that mirror typical ways of living, humanizing the tourist offer. Basically, according to the councillor for Tourism and Internationalization, "places that will be a destination...within the Porto destination itself", as are already the cases of "the artistic hub of Cedofeita/Miguel Bombarba, the Campo Alegre area or the creative hub of Bonfim".