Northern Portugal: the new nature destination

Peneda Geres National Park © Joao Farinha

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Northern Portugal is pioneering in the field of Sustainable Tourism: for the first time, a regional strategy and a governance model were created, bringing together over 15 governmental and non-governmental organisations related with tourism and nature conservation. The Consortium “Natural North – Nature Tourism in the Northern Region” was officially announced on the 9th of April, with the presence of the State Secretary of Land Planning and Nature Conservation, Mrs. Célia Ramos, and EUROPARC Executive Director, Mrs. Carol Ritchie.

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Magic Mountains, Montanhas Mágicas

Northern Portugal is already one of the most astonishing areas for nature tourism. Over 22.000 km2 of land that surprises the visitors with its scenic granitic landscapes, beautiful forests, water streams flowing in unexpected waterfalls, and rough, mountain lands, shaped by men over centuries.

For this reason, 25% of this territory is protected, comprising the only Portuguese National Park (Peneda-Geres), 4 Nature Parks, 2 Geoparks, 2 cross-border Biosphere Reserves, 2 World Heritage Cultural Landscapes, 19 Natura 2000 areas and 6 Sustainable Destinations awarded with the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (Peneda-Gerês, Montesinho, Alvão, Douro Internacional, Montanhas Mágicas and Alto Minho).

A strategy for Nature Tourism

The Consortium “Natural North” is the first of its kind for such a wide area. It aims to develop an integrated offer for Nature Tourism at a regional scale, and a joint promotion of the territory, in order to increase national and international visibility.

Porto and Northern Portugal will be recognised has one of the main nature tourism destinations in Portugal

stated Melchior Moreira, President of the Tourism of Porto and North Agency, the governmental body that led the initiative.

The regional strategy, based on the Action Plans of each Sustainable Destinations awarded with theCharter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST), follows the principles established by the EUROPARC Federation.

Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC Director, praised the Consortium for this initiative, asserting that “sustainability can only be achieved through cooperation and a common vision for the territory”.

The current effort in enhancing the level of cooperation in Northern Portugal is remarkable, and sets up a new direction of managing and promoting wider regional areas in Europe, for the benefit of people and nature.

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Ceremony with a performance of traditional singers

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Melchior Moreira (President of Tourism Porto and North Portugal), Artur Neves (President of Arouca Municiplaity), Célia Ramos (State Secreatry), Carol Ritchie (Europarc Director)

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The Consurtium “Natural North”

The ECST is a practical management tool that enables Protected Areas to develop tourism sustainably. It is managed by the EUROPARC Federation and verified through an independent process. To learn more about the charter read the brochure Good for Parks, Good for People.