The European Commission (EC) is closely following the tourism strategy for Galicia and northern Portugal promoted by the Eixo Atlántico, an idea that explores the concept of “Border Tourism” in which they see potential to export to other European borders.
The Destino Frontera project launched under the umbrella of the Spain-Portugal interreg aims to implement a tourism development strategy for the Spanish-Portuguese border as a single, integrated and structured destination, based on shared endogenous resources. The idea behind it is to invite people to cross the border and not just cross it, as these are usually territories with great historical, cultural and natural wealth.
Interreg understands that practices developed in one area can be exported to another, since “the border territories of the European Union (EU) have similar characteristics”.
The strategy was born from the Eixo Atlántico under the name “Dous países, un destino”, and now includes the creation and distribution of tourist guides – updated every two years – in Spanish, Portuguese and English, as well as the production of an electronic version of them in Galician. At the same time, every two years the Expocidades exhibition is organised in a city in the Eixo Atlántico (this year’s edition was held in Braga), where administrations and tour operators meet to promote the local tourism market.
“We established our strategy with four lines: green tourism, wine tourism, white tourism -beaches, rivers, thermalism…- and grey tourism, that of stone and historic cities”, says Xosé Vázquez Mao, general secretary of the Eixo Atlántico, who points out that “a squirrel can go from the Cíes to Doñana from natural park to natural park, passing through the Ribeira Sacra, Monfragüe or the Serra da Estrela”.
In terms of oenology, the environment of the Spanish-Portuguese border is full of designations of origin, such as Rías Baixas, Albariño, Monterrei, Vinho Verde or Douro.
Eixo Atlántico is preparing for November a meeting with MEPs from countries with border regions to try to boost border tourism, remove obstacles that still exist in them – for example, car rental – and create a Tourism and Heritage Commission.
In the long term, Eixo Atlántico intends to promote the creation of a European tourism association that favours the border model, but they comment that “it is still in its infancy”.