Worldwide, as tourism industries continue to struggle during COVID-19 restrictions, coastal communities that are reliant on tourism are particularly affected by the crisis. That is also the case on the Azores Islands, the Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, located about 1,500 km west from Lisbon. Sustainability Change Maker Carolina Mendonça from the Azores is hoping to not only revive tourism amid the crisis, but to make it more sustainable as well. Check out what she has to say!
By Carolina Mendonça.
Are you a VRT?
I can explain: VIP goes for Very Important People and VRT comes for Very Responsible Travelers!
In the Azores we want VRT!
Are you one of them?
I will help you become a VRT in the Azores, with only 3 little steps, so that you can easily remember them:
Rule #1: Do the damn COVID-19 test in your country of origin! – And please be NEGATIVE!
Yes, we are a SAFE DESTINATION now. One of the Safest actually according to EUROPEAN BEST DESTINATIONS. But that can easily change if you are NOT a responsible traveller. Our Regional Government had a really hard time overcoming this virus that unfortunately landed in the Azores in March! But guess what? In May we had zero positive cases. And we sure want to keep it this way. I know you #LOVEAZORES, but so do we! And, as a sustainable destination like we are, we must help protect our people from this horrible bug!
Rule #2: Buy local, eat local!
I must emphasize this more than ever! Going through this pandemic meant a huge economic breakdown. A great percentage of the Azores economy comes from Tourism revenue. You can help us overcome this problem if you buy local products. For example, if you go to the supermarket don’t go so fast buying the cheapest products you find! Search for products with the stamp “Marca Açores”. You will find it in many regional products – fruits, vegetables, dairy, appetizers, liqueurs, biscuits – and I can assure you that THEY ARE DELICIOUS, and of course, have a superior quality!
Apart from that, go to a restaurant that serves local/regional food and try our regional gastronomy. You can also book a tour on the island with a small local tourist company! Is there anyone better to show you around than the locals?
Rule #3: The Azores are 9 islands! Please discover the wonders of other islands than just São Miguel 🙂
With so many choices, don’t go just to São Miguel island, and I explain you why: The other islands can suffer economic imbalances, because you are putting your money only in services (Restaurants & Lodges) at São Miguel island. It is fundamental that all the islands can evolve as a whole, so that the Azorean people can have equal benefits in salaries, in employments, job creation, transportation, etc. This is also a way to combat over tourism (in one island) because tourists become more spread out over the other islands. It is not hard to go around the other islands, and you can do it by plane – you can check the website Azores Airlines – and you can do it by boat – check the cruises available in AtlanticoLine.
So, next time you plan to book your trip to the Azores, search for other islands! I can assure they all have something very special to offer you!
Do you have other tips you would like to share with us on how to become a VRT? Share with us in the comments!