The Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (APAVT) returned to Porto, more than two decades later, to hold the 48th congress, for three days, at the Centro de Congressos da Alfândega (Customs Congress Centre), with 770 registered members of Congress and a focus on the challenges of artificial intelligence in the sector.
In the opening session, the Councilor for Tourism and Internationalization recalled that "tourism is an exciting sector. Not only for those who enjoy it, but also for those who work in it. ” "And, at the Porto City Hall, we are proud to work with a destination that continues, year after year, to capture the hearts of all who pass through the city. From residents to tourists, from weekend getaways to digital nomads, from entrepreneurs to investors, "said Catarina Santos Cunha.
She went on to say, "Porto is not visited; Porto is lived, it is felt".
The success of tourism "creates value and boosts the city's economic and social drive, creating opportunities and growth for the entire region and for the country," added the Councilor for Tourism.
Recalling that the Municipality launched, in 2022, the new vision of the future for the sustainability of Porto as a destination – "a macroplan that we are putting into motion and that involves a wide network of operators, who are helping us to think up and build a new strategy for the city", she revealed –, Catarina Santos Cunha challenged all the Members of Congress: "the potential for growth is immense. We are committed to making Porto one of the leading mid-size destinations in Europe, ensuring a smart, sustainable, and balanced growth strategy. "
The best year ever for the industry
Present at the opening session, the Secretary of State for Tourism assured that "we are heading for the best year ever for tourism, and this is mainly due to companies, the agents of the sector - but also to public policies for the sector".
Regarding the theme of the congress – "Artificial intelligence – the revolution of the 21st century" –, Nuno Fazenda said that, despite all the technological (r)evolution, what continues to count, for tourism, is "the authentic; the genuine experience and feelings. What counts in tourism is the sunset you see in Foz, the flavours that Porto offers, the grape harvesting and treading in the Douro region. No artificial experience can do the same".
The president of the Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies stated, for his part, that this "was not the year of total regeneration", but of recovery and reconfirmation.
Regarding the reason why the travel agents returned to Porto to hold the association's annual meeting, Pedro Costa Ferreira said that "it is the marriage of APAVT's wish to return, since it held, 22 years ago, in this city, the last congress" and also "the will of the Tourism Entity of Porto and Northern Portugal (TPNP), which moved heaven and earth to have this event held in the city of Porto".
For the TPNP president, the holding of the APAVT congress "is the result of persistence". Luís Pedro Martins recalled that the intention is to make Porto "the national tourism stage" for three days. A sector that, according to the data cited by the president of Turismo do Porto e Norte de Portugal (Tourism of Porto and Northern Portugal), "continues to be the country's driving force".