Tourist routes in Portugal and Spain inspired by French invasions

By Kim Schiffmann, in News · 16-08-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Napoleonic invasions of the Iberian Peninsula are the basis of a project which aims to create new tourist and cultural routes in Central Portugal and the Spanish province of Castile and León.

“The NAPOCTEP project aims to transform the heritage of the time of the French invasions into a unique tourism product, capable of creating wealth and jobs in regions of Portugal and Spain that are living in the face of depopulation and aging populations”, summarised the President of the Centre’s Tourism Pedro Machado, during the presentation of NAPOCTEP.

With an expected duration of two years, the NAPOCTEP project was recently approved by the Interreg Spain-Portugal cross-border cooperation programme (POCTEP), representing a total investment of €711,000. The cross-border project, which aims to create a differentiated tourism product around the imagination of the French invasions led by Napoleon in the early nineteenth century, receives support from the ERDF (European Fund for Regional Development), which amounts to about €533,000.

Javier Ramirez, Director of Tourism for the Junta de Castilla y León, emphasised during the presentation the project’s ability to practically develop “an innovative, attractive tourism product that generates economic activity and employment”.

The Spanish official noted that the collaboration between the Junta de Castilla y León and the Regional Entity Tourism of the Centre has been strengthened in recent years, with complementary routes and tourism products and joint promotion in international markets.

“We do joint promotions in markets such as China, the United States and even Europe,” confirmed Pedro Machado, adding that together the two entities offer tourists “more than 20 World Heritage Sites,” several pilgrimage sites, a lot of historical heritage and a unique cultural and culinary experience.

This “intense cross-border cooperation” has helped combat seasonality, prompting visitors to look for new territories away from the coast, the two officials said.

Future Napoleonic routes, in an area that includes the Central Portugal region (Beiras and Serra da Estela) and the western Castilian-Leonean provinces (Salamanca, Zamora, Valladolid, León and Ávila), will be very important in bringing employment and wealth to low density territories, said the president of CIM Coimbra Region, José Carlos Alexandrino.

The Coimbra Region will now start with the work, establishing routes, developing signage and creating a unique brand that can be promoted in international markets. Mealhada was chosen for the presentation of the project because, as Mayor Rui Marqueiro pointed out, the decisive battles that fought the advance of Napoleon’s troops were fought in its territory.

The most obvious, the mayor recalled, are the Military Museum and the Battle of Bussaco, which is recreated each year in September, under the direction of the army and with the participation of many volunteers.

“The launching of the project is the easy part, now there is a lot of work ahead,” summarised Pedro Machado.


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