Monchique Tourism office

Veronika is now working in Monchique’s tourist office. She is assisting Vero, a local Portuguese lady who has been working in the office since it was opened four years ago.  Only having worked there for three days Veronika realised that there is a great demand for better walking maps and information on what to do around Monchique. The current information do not reflect or celebrate the beauty and various activities Monchique has to offer. That’s why Veronika took Nic and me, the two designers of the group, to the tourist office to  have a look at the current materials and generally get an impression of the interaction and advice given to tourist.

Opportunity 1 – Less about the Allgarve, more about Monchique

Every tourist who steps into Monchique’s tourist office hoping find exciting things to do in Monchique, making their car drive or lengthy public transport experience worth the effort, will be disappointed. The information within the office seems to say: ‘don’t be in Monchique, be anywhere else in the Algarve’. The leaflet information point only has one leaflet about Monchique activities (well done to Lucio), all the rest is pointing to activities around the Algarve or even Lisbon. The office counter is packed with hiking and trail books or wine guide about the Algarve or Portugal in general. The glass cupboard in the corner praises produce of the Algarve, rather than the local honey, Medronho, pottery or cork products. Only one A3 map is specific for the region, labeling all roads, but lacking cafes, shops, markets or foot paths.

Opportunity 2 – Clear, specific walking maps

Having been in the tourist office for 45 mins, the eight tourists visiting, all requested information about hiking or walking trails. All Vera can do is point people to the starting points of the two labelled paths. Unfortunately most paths are not labelled yet and there are no more specific maps of the two walks that are. Basically tourists are send out into the blue to find and follow the few path markers by themselves. The opportunity here is to create an economical A4 folded flyer that describes the path and the points of interest along the path for Foia, Picota, Monastery and Monchique town walk. This can directly feed into the Veredas work I am doing for Lucio and Joana. Although I’ll need to take care they don’t feel to be trodden on their feet and potentially putting their contact details on the back for guided tours.

Opportunity 3 – Monchique map with cafe’s, craft shops etc.

This could either tie in with a version of my Patterns of Monchique or Nic’s Monchiquetionary – a collection of facts and photos about Monchique.

Opportunity 4 – Help Vera to sell Monchique verbally

Maybe a bit dishearted by the lack of response from the council with new materials, Vero seems not very enthusiastic about her job – having worked in the tourist office for four years, most of the time by herself. Monchique is a great place to come with a huge range of nature activities or just a stroll around the city, relaxing in cafes or discovering beautiful tile pattern or get lost in the gardens. There is so much more to do than just walk up to the peaks or go to Caldas de Monchique, which is 8 km down the road. Tourists should rather be encouraged to contribute to the local economy in Monchique. As Veronika will be working in the tourism office, she could possibly inspire or try out different approaches as well as find out up to date / off season prices for guest houses and hotels to encourage people to not just spend half a day in Monchique, which current information suggest doing.

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