Inspired by the new international concept of Creative Tourism, Douro-Wellcome, Porto-Wellcome and Genuine Galicia decided to unite to provide visitors from the North of Portugal and Galicia with a series of new experiences and tourism products.
The objective is to develop the creative potential of the participants through their active involvement in workshops, courses and other learning experiences that are characteristic of these tourist destinations.
Considered as an emerging form of tourism, both on the supply side and the demand side, it enables the tourist to deepen contact and knowledge with the local culture through direct participation in cultural and creative activities, most often involving the populations locations.
Get carried away by this new concept on your next getaway!
Interview of Mr. Mário Carvalho, CEO of Douro-Wellcome
– Where did the idea of Douro-Wellcome come to incorporate the Creative Tourism Network®?
Douro-Wellcome always had as a priority a diversified and careful offer of tourist programs, so as we were following the development of international SLOW movements, we realized that in Portugal there was such a gap for the creative tourism…
– Was it difficult to get these international recognitions?
It was laborious … but simple. In fact, the CEO of Douro-Wellcome also coordinates the Working Group on Sustainable Tourism of Quercus – Portuguese Association for Nature Conservation, the largest Portuguese environmental association, which was an excellent support! In addition we have privileged relations with the Foundation of Ecoagroturismo of Spain that proved very available. Moreover, the important thing is to stay focused and follow international guidelines.
– What are your goals? Your philosophy?
Our team is involved in this project of soul and heart!
Firstly, we intend to contribute to the preservation of Portuguese traditions and customs.
Then, we know that nowadays, when we travel we take lots of “selfies” in front of monuments we even don’t know the name. So it is our intention that those who visit Portugal do it more actively, through a more authentic and creative experience. We want above all to create “souvenirs”, which is only possible if we experience things, if we participate in unforgettable and unique experiences. Finally, in the tourism programs we offer, we involve the local communities, in a way we intend to contribute to the economic and social development of these communities and select those that are aligned in the principles of ecotourism, in order to reduce the ecological footprint which tourism generates.
– Which kind of activities do you propose?
There are so many! For example, outdoor walks in which tourists follow a shepherd’s journey with his flock or field trips guided by the owner of an agricultural unit or a rural lodge such as the vineyards. We also have activities related to local gastronomy …
– Like, eating in traditional places?
Yes! We have a list of excellent restaurants, but not only. In one of the programs we could learn how to make bread, or make jams and liqueurs of local products, or one of my favorites to visit a farmer’s house and learn how to smoke the fireplace with the presence of grandparents, children, grandchildren … We also have programs in the area of wine tourism, which offer a wine experience, such as a day spent in a farm on visits and tests, or the most common package that is participation in the grape harvest.
We also have handicraft workshops, such as the traditional masks of Trás-os-Montes (northeast of Portugal), where a family learns the technique with the local craftsman in their workshop, and finally can take home your own !
– Any recommendation? … just for us!
The cherry on top of the cake: In the border area between the North of Portugal and Galicia, we are proposing an activity related to the already extinct practice of Contraband, in which visitors actively participate in a recreation at the time, carried out by a local association.
All the actors are resident in the host village, and even they were former tax guards, carabineers or smugglers. Now guess who the Smugglers are going to be …
– What is your way of working with local communities?
From the proximity. As I mentioned before, whenever possible we involve the local population, which makes this project differentiating. The authoctons are the ones who know the region better and the customs and when they collaborate with Douro-Wellcome they are happy and proud to welcome national and international visitors, genuinely interested in Portuguese culture. They love to share their traditions, their knowledge, because they feel that they can perpetuate them.
– What is the profile of the “creative” tourists who participate in your activities?
We have participants of all ages, so we can say that the common denominator are people who live in an urban environment, and who are curious about how to live in the villages and towns of the interior of Portugal. Or, in the case of families, who want to share this reference with their children and grandchildren.
We can say that tourists looking for this product appreciate non-mass destinations, like authentic and genuine places. Some have already shown an environmental concern and value social and economic responsibility.
– What is the added value of the Douro-Wellcome to the territory?
Through the participation of the local community in specific activities, the use of its services and its Km0 products, we contribute to create value to local products at their origin. We encourage the actions the tourists to acquire indigenous and seasonal products, supporting local producers, organic farming and agricultural biodiversity, fair trade and balance between the interests of tourists and the local population. This whole cycle is triggered by the arrival of tourists in the interior of Portugal, creating a very important dynamic, which will improve the quality of life of local populations, which diversify their activities, increase their income, enabling the establishment of people in this lowland territory density.