Fotografía: Miguel Nogueira/CMP
Welcome from Mr. Rui Moreira
Mayor of the City of Porto
Porto is a tourist destination of excellence, offering multiple experiences to those who visit it. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in tourist demand in the city and, after the limitations caused by the pandemic, the sector is now in full recovery.
Faced with the influx of tourists, the Porto City Council has been concerned with preserving the quality of life in the city, both for those who live and work in the city and for those who visit it.
In the last two years, the priority has been to adopt measures to mitigate the effects of the health crisis on the social, economic and cultural fabric of the city. At the same time, Porto has reinvented itself to meet the new needs and expectations of the city's various users.
Ensuring that tourism contributes to the sustainability of the local and global territory is part of our strategic vision for Porto, in line with the UNWTO Sustainable Development Goals.
We see the preservation and enhancement of its heritage and cultural identity, the digital transition, environmental quality and smart mobility as critical factors for the positioning of Porto as a tourist destination.
With our sights set on the future, we are working towards a city that integrates the local population and visitors into an inclusive, harmonious and sustainable community.
Porto is a medium-sized city, with 41.42 km2 and a population of just over 230,000 inhabitants. The main urban centre of the northern region of Portugal, its territory extends along the right bank of the Douro River and the Atlantic coastline.
The city is strategically located between Europe, Africa and America, and is easily accessible by air, land and sea thanks to a modern multimodal transport network.
With a unique identity, reflecting the authenticity of its people, and a unique scenic beauty, the result of a symbiosis between tradition and modernity, Porto has managed to preserve its cultural heritage and its most deeply-rooted customs and traditions. However, the city also offers a contemporary, cosmopolitan and sophisticated atmosphere.
There are many factors that justify the city's growing attractiveness: its historic centre, of medieval origin, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996; its vast historical and architectural heritage, which brings together a wide variety of styles; its wide cultural and leisure offer; its river and maritime environment; its gastronomic and wine richness, especially the famous Port wine; its countless green spaces, which invite to outdoor activities; and also factors such as the mild climate, urban safety and the quality of public services.
Along with the increase in tourist demand, the supply of hotels and local accommodation has grown, as have the cultural and leisure activities of interest to visitors to Porto. There is much to discover and enjoy in the city in areas such as architecture, art, design, fashion, restaurants, nightlife, local commerce, handicrafts...
Faced with the boom in tourism, Porto City Council has been implementing measures to ensure the enjoyment and balanced development of the city, the rational use of its environmental, cultural and socio-economic resources and the healthy coexistence of residents, tourists and economic agents.
The city's development strategy advocates the valorisation of the territory and the adoption of innovative solutions to offer a better experience to those who visit Porto and, at the same time, promote the quality of life of the residents.
It is worth highlighting, at this level, the Management and Sustainability Plan for the Historic Centre for the period 2020-2030, which foresees the rehabilitation of the building while maintaining its aesthetic coherence and identity. The same strategic document advocates the protection of the socio-cultural matrix of the community, through the repopulation with old and new residents, the stimulation of active and authentic commerce and the harmonious enjoyment of public space.
Conversion of emblematic facilities
The city's emblematic architectural and cultural spaces are being rehabilitated, reconverted and enhanced to meet the interests and needs of residents and visitors (both leisure and business).
Of particular note is the iconic Crystal Palace (now the Super Bock Arena - Rosa Mota Pavilion), which in 2019 was transformed into a multifunctional, versatile and sustainable space, equipped with modern technologies but retaining its iconic structure. This renovated facility can host large-scale events, in particular congresses, shows and sporting competitions.
Soon to be inaugurated, the renovated Mercado do Bolhão will reconcile its century-old activity of retailing fresh produce with the multi-functions of a modern commercial space, with new features and accessibility. In this way, the market will be better adapted to the urban and tourist life of the city, without detriment to the architectural, historical and cultural value of the building.
The conversion of the former municipal slaughterhouse, which has been deactivated for more than 20 years, into a centre for business, cultural and social revitalisation is also underway. With a surface area of approximately 26,000 m2, the new facility will profoundly transform and enhance the peripheral area of the city where it is located (Campanhã), boosting its development.
Creation of new centralities
Reducing the pressure on the areas with the greatest influx of visitors and the socio-spatial asymmetries in the city involves dispersing tourist flows and extending the length of stay of tourists.
With these objectives in mind, Porto City Council has been investing in the creation of new points of interest outside the traditional places of visit, through the promotion of alternative thematic itineraries and new tourist products. In this way, the discovery of the city is also enhanced according to the interests and profile of visitors.
The policy of requalifying and expanding public green spaces also makes it possible to renovate degraded areas and create new focal points of attraction, while responding to the climate emergency, contributing to the municipal objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
Another measure adopted was the improvement of the network of parks and gardens with sports, children's and leisure equipment. This promotes the health and well-being of the population, while meeting the motivations and demands of tourists in this area.
Mobility and accessibility
To facilitate mobility, Porto City Council has invested in the widespread use of public transport and the creation of new accessibilities. The extensive public transport network (train, metro, bus, tram and funicular) and soft means of transport (bicycles and scooters) guarantee multimodal and efficient mobility, contributing to the environmental quality of the city.
In addition, pedestrian areas have been enlarged and re-qualified, facilitating circulation and making it safer for those on foot. Mechanised links have also been created in areas with steep gradients.
Managing the impact of tourism activity.
To offset the impact of the tourist footprint, since March 2018 a tax of €2 per overnight stay in hotels or local accommodation has been applied. The tourist tax helps to prevent the degradation of public assets and their over-occupation, as well as to reinforce municipal action in areas such as the safety of people and property, urban cleanliness and hygiene, signage and leisure.
In 2021, the "Confiança Porto" programme was created to recognise the quality and excellence of tourist accommodation units, based on the requirements of management, reception, cleaning service, equipment and infrastructure, maintenance and environment, safety and environment. It now also covers criteria such as environmental sustainability, circular economy, preference for local products and the valorisation of human resources. This programme also includes free training, as it is considered essential to qualify the sector for a quality tourism offer.
In order to reconcile and mediate the interests of all those involved (residents, tourists, condominium owners, managers and owners of establishments) and to promote well-being and good coexistence between all parties, the figure of the Local Accommodation Ombudsman was created.
Another area of intervention and regulation is Porto Movida. The revision of the nightlife management regulations is currently underway, which will be adapted to the change in habits brought about by the pandemic. The aim is to harmonise the interests of residents, frequenters of nightlife venues and entrepreneurs in the sector.
Digitalisation and innovation
To conclude, we cannot fail to mention the digital transformation strategy that is underway in the city, which covers several sectors of urban life and is also reflected in the implementation of technological solutions for tourism.
In addition to the various channels offered by the Official Porto Tourism, digital platforms have been created to support tourists. Of particular note is "Explore Porto", which allows users to interact with beacons installed in the city (especially at bus stops) using a smartphone and obtain information on points of interest, routes and nearby transport.
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