Councils refuse to cooperate in promoting Algarve retailers
The head of ACRAL, the Algarve’s main trade association, regrets the lack of joint promotional activity for regional businesses and states that strategic planning for the region is sorely needed.
While acknowledging that local Council initiatives in the lead up to Christmas have attracted more people to the region’s shops, Alvaro Viegas commented that, “There needs to be a year-round strategy and this does not exist, we can not focus on just two periods, on six or seven Fridays during the summer, plus three weeks in December and then expect consumers to return during the rest of the year.”
Viegas appreciates the community entertainment programme for the high season, in which ACRAL participates, “promotes a greater involvement of merchants and consequently a greater return,” he warns that it is necessary to develop a promotion strategy that involves the entire region.
“The Algarve has difficulty speaking with one voice. Unfortunately a union of the local councils around this project is lacking – any union in the Algarve is very difficult. With the exception of the fight against oil, in which civil society and mayors have joined together, everything else has not been joined up, the mayors have difficulty with cooperation,” lamented ACRAL’s president.
Alvaro Viegas’s initiative, presented to the region’s mayors about three years ago, was a set of measures, “for the creation of the Trade Algarve brand,” but this idea stayed in the bottom drawer.
What happens now are isolated initiatives, each municipality working on its own without looking at the region as a whole. It is important that, along with tourism, a unique strategy to promote our commerce is created. Along with tourism, it is the trade that creates the most employment in the region,” said the association president.
One problem is parking in city centres, as “it is difficult to park in many of them” and for better shopping infrastructure in renovated shopping areas.
“The national consumer, but especially the foreigner, when he visits the city of Faro, Loulé or another, does not want to go to a shopping centre but wants to find genuine shops in a clean and pleasant area,” said Viegas.
Faro’s local shopkeepers, according to the president of the Commercial Development Association of Faro Historic Area, José Carlos Manuel, said there is also a lack of unity among traditional businessmen, “more people are coming to Faro to shop but there is some lack of union between local traders who are open at different times and many are shut on Sundays, for example.
“It’s no use getting people downtown to find the shops are closed. We will try to change this trend next year,” said José Carlos Manuel.
ACRAL (Associação do Comércio e Serviços da Região do Algarve) – https://www.acral.pt/