“In an increasingly competitive market, with many more countries entering the cultural tourism market, with very interesting offers, and where tourists are increasingly cultural, the Algarve has to follow this trend, otherwise it will become hostage to the less demanding tourist who spends less”, Carlos Martins, executive director of the consultancy that carried out the study, told journalists in Faro.

According to the study, each tourist in the Algarve spends, on average, around 180 euros on cultural or entertainment experiences, which also corresponds, on average, to around 10% of the total spending they have on the trip.

“It is already very relevant, but there is room for growth, because there are places where [spending on entertainment and culture] goes up to 40% of this [total] spending. We are here, in the Algarve, still with a deficit compared to what is the average, in some countries, of tourist spending on the experience in the territory. We are far from reaching [that number] and we have a very large growth margin here”, stressed the consultant.

Carlos Martins reinforced that the region must work to “be able to offer better experiences, because people are willing to pay for them and already pay in other destinations”.

To do this, it will be necessary to make tourists feel “less and less like tourists and more like residents”, presenting them with what is “unique and specific” in local markets, products, recipes or intangible heritage.

“If I want to have a wine tourism experience in the region today, this offer is not organised. Taking a tourist to a municipal market to choose products, or going with a chef to a restaurant that works with wines from the region, all these are cultural experiences that are not yet organised.”

Challenge of training

Training cultural agents to offer more qualified experiences, proposals, spaces and events is another of the main challenges.

“Today, in Portugal, cultural agents find it very difficult to stay afloat and, in the post-pandemic, [of covid-19] even more”, stressed Carlos Martins.

Working better with the set of digital tools currently available to “segment offers almost person by person, according to their type of interests”, is another of the goals pointed out, not least because more and more tourists are looking to plan their visit, “curating their own experience”, instead of opting for predefined packages.

National differences

The Dutch, French and German markets are the most predisposed to some type of cultural practices, such as museums, theatre, monuments and heritage. The Portuguese, Irish or Spanish are more superficial consumer, looking for short-term events.

“This work allows us to help identify what the demand needs. Often, on the side of the regions, there is a lot of work on supply. One more event, one more visitable space, one more route – but nobody asks the tourist what they really wanted”, he observed.

According to Carlos Martins, this work helps to understand the profile of the tourist, "so that later it is easier to adjust the offer to the type of interests", being necessary "to continue to permanently evaluate the demand".