The Government of Madeira said on Tuesday it has allocated €3.2 million for the region’s famed Christmas and New Year celebrations, which attract many tourists to the Portuguese island. At a press conference in Funchal, Madeira’s Secretary for the Economy, Tourism and Culture, Eduardo Jesus, noted that the figure was a saving of €500,000 compared to last year’s spending on the celebrations.
The State Secretary said that a survey of hotels canvassed on 22 November indicated an occupancy rate around the Christmas period of 62.5 percent (four percentage points higher than in 2015), while the New year period is 90 percent booked a month ahead of the celebrations, an increase of five percent compared to the same period of last year.
Eduardo Jesus noted that Christmas lights in Funchal, which were switched on on 1 December, are costing the Government 1.5 million euros, while the traditional New Year’s firework display will cost €800,000.
In related news, Funchal, Madeira’s biggest city, was one of seven European cities to receive the Access City award from the European Commission on Tuesday, and was the only Portuguese city on the list.
According to its organisers, the award is part of the European Disability Strategy and chooses “the city that has managed to visibly and sustainably improve access to essential aspects of urban life, and which has concrete plans to continue, improving.”
The awards’ aim, it said, is “to recognise and inspire other cities, promoting good practices between European cities,” and there were 43 candidates for the 2016 awards.
The European Commission this year distinguished the English city of Chester, Rotterdam (Netherlands), Jurmala (Latvia), Skelleftea (Sweden), Alessandria (Italy), Lugo (Spain) and Funchal (Portugal), for improving access for elderly and disabled citizens.
In Funchal’s case, the city was recognised for its commitment to “continue improving access in a difficult geographic context.”
According to the award’s organisers, “this island city, despite its heavy volcanic terrain, has ensured that all beaches, tourist locations, taxis, hotels and public spaces are accessible so that disabled residents and visitors have the same opportunities as others to enjoy their holidays.”
The Mayor of Funchal, Paulo Cafôfo told Lusa News Agency “This recognition by the European Commission is a tremendous honour for Funchal and for everything we have done in terms of accessibility and inclusion over the last three years.”