The Algarve’s University has submitted a report indicating that the Ombria Resort, seven kilometres north of Loulé, will benefit the State by €153 million.
A University team has published the, ‘Economic and Social Impact of the Ombria Resort Development in the Municipality of Loulé’ and attributed a value to the Treasury and local Council of the resort’s total tax contribution.
The €153 million total will be distributed between the State, €131 million, and taxes to the Council of €22.2 million – thus explaining why the Coucil executive bent over backwards to enable the resort to receive its building licences.
The study was carried out by a multidisciplinary University team and included those studying regional economics, tourism, business finance and taxation.
Investment at Ombria will be €252.2 million for the infrastructure, the golf course, the Viceroy hotel buildings, the houses and apartments to be sold off to the public, the landscaping, reorganising the natural area and improving road access .
Ombria Resort is a controversial development in the Barrocal counrtyside between the villages of Tôr and Querença. It has been promoted as a ‘sustainable’ resort.
The promotion of local employment in a direct and indirect way is another positive point noted by the University team.
During the construction period, an average of 140 workers per year will be required, with a peak of 572 expected by 2020. When the Resort is operational, from the completion of the first phase in 2021, the need for manpower will stabilise at 300 jobs, of which 15% will be professionals with a higher education level.
In addition to employing locals, the Ombria Resort hopes to establish new residents in the sparsely populated countryside area.
The study also points to the dynamism of the local economy and the growth of indirect employment, due to the positive impact that the Ombria Resort should have for restaurants, bars, shops and tourism companies.
In addition to taxation and economics, the study calculates other benefits for the region: strengthening the prestige of the parishes, improving the image of the destination, increase in Portugal’s reputation in international markets, increase entrepreneurship and investment, boosting local consumption, improving road and telecommunications infrastructures, boosting local traditions and culture and increasing the income, purchasing power and quality of life for local people.
The study does not look at the environmental cost of carving a resort out of a Natura 2000 area of Portugal’s countryside and the resulting damage caused by increase traffic, water use and the change in land use.
The Ombria development proposal attracted criticism from Brussels, as well as many of Portugal’s environmental NGOs, as it is in an ecologically sensitive area of the Algarve and sits right on top of the Querença aquifer.
The EC stated that after Quinta da Ombria, there should be no similar developments in the same area – then allowed 381 hectares at vVale de Freixo to become a similar resort – despite both developments sitting on top of the sensitive Querença aquifer.
The Ombria promoters claim that, “The project will be completely integrated into the surrounding landscape, occupying about 153 hectares, across an area of green hills, holm oaks, cork oaks and other typical tree species, flanked by streams.”
Environmentalists claim that there is little point in having protected natural areas if the government allows developers to build golf course resorts in them.
The University report looks at the financial contribution but not the flip side of the coin.
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