The Azores Promotion Board has become an associate member of the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers to highlight its attractions ahead of new British Airways services.
BA will start flying from Heathrow to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel Island) on July 2, and to Lajes (Terceira Island) on July 10.
A spokesperson for the Azores Promotion Board said the Portuguese archipelago is known for its natural beauty, describing it as “nothing short of absolutely breath-taking”.
She added that sustainable tourism is a key focus for the mid-Atlantic destination, which was certified under the EarthCheck Sustainable Destination programme two years ago.
Joining Atas means the Azores Promotion Board can work more closely with UK travel agents and tour operators, she added.
“Agents and operators are important and relevant sales channels for the Azores as they play an important role on the holiday decision process,” she said.
Using the VisitAzores brand, the tourist board can offer agents training webinars and joint marketing opportunities, and support fam trips.
“Real knowledge of the destination is one of the best tools to guarantee sales,” she added.
Tourism to the islands has been badly hit during the pandemic, with Ryanair’s Stansted service being cancelled in 2020.
The service resumed in 2021 but travel restrictions affected demand, said Coelho.
However, she expects demand to recover in 2022, thanks to the new BA flights, in addition to the Ryanair services, plus TAP Portugal links via Lisbon and Oporto.
Furthermore, the touring and adventure travel sector is important to the Azores because of its natural attractions, such as diverse wildlife on land and in the sea, volcanic caves and botanical gardens.
Activities include diving, golf, geocaching, whale-watching, birdwatching, and walking along tourist routes with themes such as wines, volcanoes and spas.
There are two Unesco World Heritage sites: the historical centre of Angra do Heroísmo and the landscape of the Pico Island vineyard culture.
Angra do Heroísmo on the island of Terceira was a port of call for ships sailing between Africa and the East and West Indies from the 15th century until the advent of steamships in the 19th century.
Other attractions include the islands’ architecture, including windmills and watermills, and museums telling the Azores’ history.
Foodies can take gastronomic tours to explore the cuisine of the islands, which are known for a wide variety of seafood, local beef, exotic fruits, wines, and special dishes such as ‘Cozido das Furnas’, which is made with meat and vegetables that are cooked by geothermal heat in a pot that is placed underground.
Claire Brighton, account manager for Atas, said: “It was fascinating to find out about touring and adventure holidays in the Azores when the tourist board joined us at our annual conference in Birmingham, in October.
“We’re delighted they’re now on board as an associate member as the islands’ landscapes, heritage and cultural attractions will be in demand during 2022, especially as BA will be flying there too.”
Details of the Azores’ tourism offerings can be seen at www.visitazores.com