Leisure empire sails on

in · 15-01-2005 00:00:00 · 0 Comments

Government ministers, VIPs and the media converged on the dockyard in Viana do Castelo for the official launch of a new shipbuilding project.

Ferreira and Rayford Tourism Lda was founded in 1994 between Mário Ferreira and North American Barbara Rayford. The leisure company, known as Douro Azul, now operates day trips and hotel boat river cruises, yacht hire, hotels and a pousada, helicopter tours Helitours and a quinta.
Last week, Douro Azul launched a 21 million Euro ship building project to build two new floating hotels destined for leisure cruises on the Douro and Guadiana rivers.
The Ferreira/Rayford empire has however, been the source of recent media attention after it was revealed that the couple had separated last year.
In an article in the Correio da Manhã, it was reported that Mário Ferreira, Douro Azul's Administration Council President, denied that family problems would affect the group's future.
Douro Azul is continuing to expand with the building of two new ships, a project which is also said to be helping save the financially troubled shipyard, Estaleiros Navais de Viana do Castelo.
Paulo Portas, Minister of Defence, and Tourism Minister Telmo Correia were among the VIPs at the launch in Viana last week. The investment for the project was 50 percent supported by the Tourism Ministry, through the SIVETUR programme (Sistema de Incentivos a Produtos de Vocação Estratégica do Turismo), according to the Comércio do Porto.
The new hotel boats Douro Queen and Algarve Cruiser are set to be sailing on the northern and southern Portuguese rivers by May. Each will take on board 130 passengers and 30 crewmembers, and include a swimming pool, Jacuzzis, sun deck, restaurant, panoramic bar, souvenir shop and 65 outside cabins, more than half of them with private balcony.
At last week's project launch, Mr Correia said that in a country with such strong links with the sea, such forms of tourism were fundamental to the country's development.


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