I spent a week in Portugal in late March 2012. After booking my flights in early January, I tweeted about my forthcoming visit. I received a message from @VisitPortugal saying “we welcome you with open arms” and that was it. It was an individual, Mary Goudie of Your Lisbon Guide, who contacted me initially through Twitter, asking about my forthcoming trip and offering to find me complimentary accommodation, arrange restaurant reviews and show me around the area.
Convento de Cristo, Tomar, Portugal
Mary arranged for me to stay at the Janelas Verdes Hotel for three nights, set up four restaurant review meals, gave me a Lisbon tour including Queluz Palace and took me on a day trip to Tomar and Fatima.
Interior of Church of the Holy Trinity, Fatima, Portugal
It was a similar story in Faro in the Algarve, Gwen McCauley of Algarve Experiences took me on a day trip around the area.
If you’re planning a trip to the Algarve, check out the holidays on offer at letsgo2.
I went into the Faro tourist information office to ask if there was any sort of press pass for travel writers to get complimentary entry to attractions and there was no provision for this.
Sunset at Faro Marina
I have almost 300 photos of my trip to Portugal on Flickr and have also pinned quite a few photos on Pinterest boards. I’ve been tweeting these photos with #Portugal #Lisbon #Lisbontrip #Farotrip hashtags, with virtually no RTs from Visit Portugal. I’m not claiming all my photos are fantastic, nor do I think that the online travel world revolves around me and everyone should follow my every move/tweet, but it strikes me that Visit Portugal could have capitalised more on my trip.
I had a look at the Visit Portugal website. They’re part of the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, with a remit for the “promotion, development and sustainability of tourism activity.” One of their specific goals is “to coordinate the promotion of Portugal as a tourist destination, both at home and abroad”.
On a similar note, I went into the Hotel Eva in Faro to ask if I could see some of their rooms and take photos and videos. I arranged to return a couple of days later between 10-11am. I left my business card with the receptionist, who told me he would inform the manager. I returned at the appointed time and was told it wasn’t possible to see the rooms. I would have uploaded these photos and videos of Hotel Eva to Flickr, Pinterest and YouTube and written about the hotel.
Is Portugal working hard to promote itself as travel and holiday destination? It doesn’t seem like it to me.
Update 27 April 2012
Visit Portugal gave me a K+ on Travel & Tourism yesterday and a #FollowFriday on Twitter today. I wonder if this is in response to this post (I did ask them to comment on the post on Twitter and had no response), or just a coincidence?