Tee Off

Words of praise and recognition from João dos Reis

The work done by the Algarve Tourism Board (Região de Turismo do AlgarveRTA) to promote the region’s golf tourism is not going well. However, this is no fault of the individuals employed there, many of whom I have known for several years as hardworking, competent and highly qualified specialists in the tourism industry. However, I believe that those now leading the organisation display a lack of competence or thoroughness ­ or both ­ and I also fear that inadequate funding is an unacceptable reality. The Algarve has never been so inadequately promoted and this is unfair on a region which contributes 4.5 million to the national GNP and receives little or nothing in return and this could be a consequence of the Tourism Board’s reluctance to make important decisions and to act decisively.

When first arriving in the Algarve as a journalist and correspondent for the Correio da Manhã newspaper more than 30 years ago I was part of the RTA’s founding team. At that time the organisation was very active and led by high calibre, competent individuals. The leader of RTA should be acquainted with, at the very least, the most basic requirements for tourism and golf and not merely be a political operator. It is unfortunate that too many recent activities to promote the Algarve have come from local town halls, hotels, golf courses, bars, restaurants and various commercial establishments.

Not being affiliated to any political party, I am comfortable addressing this issue from an objective, independent perspective. However, I do concede a love of the Algarve and so cannot stand by and say nothing when I see a risk to the effective promotion of this beautiful region. On a recent visit to the Oceânico Faldo and Oceânico O’Connor Jnr courses in Alcantarilha it was pleasing to see that the clubhouse was filled with players of many nationalities ­something I had not seen for some time. There was a good atmosphere, especially in the restaurant where players from all over the world enjoyed the best food that the Algarve has to offer and for which this clubhouse has an enviable reputation.

Hernâni Estevão, golf director at Vale do Lobo, is continuing with the excellent work he has carried out over many years. The priority remains to ensure yet further improvement of the Ocean and Ocean Royal courses which, with the clubs at Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura, are distinctive features of what has become known as the Golden Triangle. Hernâni’s input cannot be underestimated as he continues to be one of the Algarve’s leading golf directors.