The external recognition of the excellence of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro has been one of the main achievements of the region since its classification by UNESCO 15 years ago, says Ricardo Magalhães, vice president of CCDR-N, the managing body of that World Heritage Site.

“The main gains were the external recognition of the excellence of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro and the international projection achieved”, emphasizes Ricardo Magalhães, vice-president of the Northern Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR-N), who from 2007 to 2012 was head of Douro Mission Structure project, created in 2006 to ensure the classification of the region and joined the commission in 2014.

“Douro World Heritage has been working as a successful marketing bet, especially in foreign markets”, with “more and more foreign tourists looking for this wine region”.

Over the last 15 years, and with the focus on qualifying tourism in the region, “more quality accommodation and catering” has emerged, as well as “new visitor support infrastructures and the offer of entertainment and cultural programs that bring together several partners”, underlines the former secretary of state, in a written interview with Lusa.

At the same time, the region saw “very significant gains in infrastructure”, with the construction of the Marão Tunnel and the Transmontana Freeway, which represented “giant steps, only possible through the use of EU funds”.

“Serious constraints on accessibility and lack of responsiveness to tourists have been resolved,” says Ricardo Magalhães, but recalling the still “long way to go”, in order to take better advantage of the Douro's navigability.

Although tourism has increased in the region, the official does not believe in a massification of the Douro as a tourist destination, since everything has been done "in order to win tourists and foreign investors with the necessary clairvoyance of a sustainable destination."

“We are and will be in a classified landscape, intact and fragile in its genesis, authentic and genuine, requiring special planning and management care. This landscape reflects a unique relationship between man and nature. It's a genius thing and it won't change, ”he says.

After the controversy surrounding the Foz Tua dam, whose construction threatened UNESCO classification, Ricardo Magalhães believes there is still a “place for new projects” in the Douro, as long as they “ensure the authenticity and balance of the Alto Douro Wine Region”. "

According to the CCDR-N vice-president, “neither the UNESCO classification is concerned nor the preservation of the landscape is a reason to restrict future investments”, namely those that promote the “indispensable revitalization of cities and towns” in a territory. that “it is not only intended to be attractive to visitors or investors”, but “demonstrates the ability to fix young people”.

For the coming years, the official defends the need to “take advantage of a communication of World Heritage goods” and to continue to invest in the internationalization of the Douro World Heritage brand.

“It is intended an active role in the international network of wine regions bearing the UNESCO label,” says Ricardo Magalhães, who in the long term, the development of the territory should also include “an ever closer proximity between the University of Trás -os-Montes and the companies of the region ”.

It was on 14 December 2001 that the Alto Douro Vinhateiro (ADV) was included in the list of World Heritage of Humanity, in the category of Evolutionary and Living Cultural Landscape.

The classified area comprises 24,600 hectares, about one tenth of the total of the Douro Demarcated Region, with its buffer zone an area of 225,400 hectares, and covers 13 municipalities.

Source: Jornal de Notícias


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