The Madeira Tecnopolo

Oto Oliveira

Head of Department, Madeira Tecnopolo International Congress and Exhibition Centre

By the close of this century, tourism will have become one of the greatest income-generating industries, and the development strategies of countries and regions will be guided by this growth.

The increase in life expectancy, the lowering of the retirement age and the reduction in working hours, together with a proliferation of destinations and the low cost of travel have redefined tourism. Countries and regions have been adopting different strategies in order to face this new situation.

The island of Madeira is a good example of this. While making every effort to maintain the quality of service which has always characterised this, the oldest tourist destination in Europe, Madeira has, on the other hand, tried to attract new markets, offering golf, scuba diving and walks in its beautiful mountains. More recently, Madeira added a centre for exhibitions and congresses. A feature of this centre, one which makes it interesting to study, is that it forms part of Madeira Tecnopolo, a science and technology park, an area of 46 hectares of complementary institutions.

Among them are the University of Madeira, with its teachers and 3,000 students; a Business Innovation Centre with 20 companies already established in it; an Applied Research Unit for astronomy, marine biology, physics and mathematics; historical archives; a museum of art and technology; an Olympic-sized swimming pool; a sports centre and tennis courts. The International Congress and Exhibition Centre fits very well in this ample space and is a welcoming site for visitors. In addition to the international characteristics of any centre for exhibitions and congresses, the quality of service, state-of-the-art equipment and good communications of this centre imparts a special ambience to all the events held there. This is only enhanced by the conviviality of the different institutions, the youthfulness of the students, the beauty of its gardens and the encouragement to work which the presence of the science and technology park provides.

This integrated approach, which makes rational use of synergy, is an excellent example of investment for all those regions which do not wish to merely invest in yet another congress centre - which can be nothing more than an enormous fund-absorbing sponge - but in an integrated model of regional development which is economically and financially viable. In the first months of its existence, the International Congress and Exhibition Centre has already staged innumerable initiatives which have come from its various institutional partners and everything points to a successful end to the year when the centre plays host to the Congress of the Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agents.

Oto Oliveira is the Head of Department at the International Congress and Exhibition Centre, Madeira Tecnopolo, Caminho da Penteada, Funchal 9000, Portugal. Tel: +351 91 720011. Fax: +351 91 720010.