World Travel Awards 2022: The good and the ugly
What I will say here is similar to what I wrote about the Azores a few days ago.
The results of the World Travel Awards 2022 are great for those who work in the tourism industry but probably less welcomed by those who live in those destinations and face the unbearable price increase in real estate, restaurants, and cafes. Because, let’s face it, that’s where we feel it the most. It still feels like Portugal is turning into one of those countries that only tourists find cheap and affordable. Not the tourists’ fault, of course.
But a word to those who will flock to these destinations based on their award-winning qualities: please consider the locals. And although I encourage you to have fun, mingle with the Portuguese, and indulge in our rich cuisine and culture, remember for a second that you’re not at a tourist resort.
The "good" awards
Lisbon is Europe’s Leading City Break Destination and Europe’s Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination. Porto is Europe’s and World’s Leading City Destination. It’s a good balance between the two largest cities in Portugal. Although I’d like to see other Portuguese cities get these awards in the future.
The winner of Europe’s Leading Beach Destination was the Algarve, and I can’t say it’s terrible. It is what it is, and the Algarve has been known as a gigantic beach resort for decades. Locals who want a more “authentic” experience (take this with a grain of salt) know where to go and how to keep it a secret.
Portugal won Europe’s Leading Destination, and this is an opportunity to promote the country as a whole, focusing on decentralizing.
Dark Sky Alqueva won Europe’s and World’s Responsible Tourism Award, which is excellent news for the Alentejo region.
The "ugly" awards
Awards have whatever importance people give them. But to me, it’s disheartening to see Lisbon win the prize for Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination. This is not the kind of tourism the city or any destination needs. I am not trying to shame tourists who choose to travel this way, but cruise ships in Lisbon are one of the worst things that have happened to the city in recent years.
Cruise ships pollute and are noisy. Of course, they’re not the only ones responsible for poor air quality in Lisbon (and other cities), but I don’t see the value in crowds of tourists descending into the historic neighborhoods for a couple of hours of sightseeing.
And the Azores Islands winning the award for Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination for the fourth year in a row confirms what I wrote before. There is more to see on the islands, and we must start showcasing its diversity, not insisting on the same old attractions. Because the Azores desperately needs diverse sources of income, namely from cultural and creative tourism.