Monchique’s untapped potential for tourism

As all locals know, Monchique is an area of outstanding natural beauty:

  • The location has rare flora and fauna (orchids, one of the biggest cork trees in Europe, even, supposedly, a lynx!)
  • The water is pure and full of natural minerals (people come from miles around to fill water bottles)
  • The air is clean and fresh and blows the cobwebs away
  • The local food products (honey, pork…) are of the highest quality
  • The crafts (baskets, folding chairs, textiles and wooden spoons) are unique and still made in traditional rustic workshops by old people with many stories to tell

There is so much to offer tourists interested in the natural environment, in rural culture, in community, in adventure sports, in getting away from the stress of the big city and recharging the batteries.  However, many of these treasures remain hidden. There is incredible potential for ‘eco’, ‘rural’ or ‘sustainable’ tourism and yet it remains largely untapped.

The challenges for developing a sustainable tourism offer:

1. Noone knows what Monchique has to offer

  • The Council website has a tourist section but it is only in Portuguese
  • There is no other dedicated website promoting Monchique to tourists
  • The tourism office in Monchique, because it is run by the Algarve Tourism Board, does not have resources about Monchique, only the Algarve as a whole
  • The existing map of Monchique does not highlight what to see, where to eat, where to stay
  • There are no walking guides to Monchique that people can walk independently

2. People think that Monchique means Foia

  • Tourists come on buses from Portimao, stop for a coffee in the main square, walk a few metres up the back streets and then get on the coach to Foia

3. Tourists do not stay in Monchique

  • Adventure tourists come up from the coast for a day, bring food with them, use the Monchique countryside for their activities and go – they do not invest in local hotels, shops or restaurants

4. Unemployment is high, especially amongst young people

  • Young people go to university and do not return as there is no work
  • Many Monchique residents have to travel to other towns for work or are unemployed
  • Existing tourism grinds to a halt during the winter months, decreasing work options
  • There is a lack of entrepreneurialism or training around developing sustainable tourism businesses

There are small glimmers of change, however:

  • AlternativTour is a Monchique company offering guided walks, canoeing, climbing and cycling. A natural adventure park will open in 2013 with activities high wires and  paintballing
  • The Via Algarviana will bring tourists to the area as they hike across the Algarve from Silves to Alzejur and stay overnight in Monchique
  • The Camera of Monchique are proactive and dynamic and keen to proactively attract more tourists to the area
  • There is potential funding for people who want to offer rooms to visitors

One thought on “Monchique’s untapped potential for tourism

  1. feeschmidts says:

    A visitor at the exhibition also left this comment: Monthly agenda booklet is only in the library half way through the month, It is also in bars restaurants. It should be on display at least by the end of the previous month in as many places as possible. Events / festivals are not advertised in Monchique newspaper. They only report after the event.

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