5,000 Russians A Year ; Blue Marlin Fishing Starts Well ; Santana Theme Park Doing OK

(14th June). ‘New Routes Bring Five Thousand Russians’. With Bernard Trindade, Secretary of State for Tourism to thank, half a million Euros were invested to bring Russians to Lisbon, and thanks to the TAP airline connection, in the first week of operation at least 100 Russians have already landed here. The campaign to attract the Russians to the 5 times a week new air services (Moscow – Lisbon) involved posters showing such famous faces as Mariza, José Mourinho, and Cristiano Ronaldo (CR737), and the promise of the biggest sandy beach in Europe, and 220 days of sun a year.

‘Madeira Excluded – New port legislation does not apply in the region’. Much to the surprise of officials on Madeira and the Azores, the state has made new laws concerning port operations, that specifically exclude them. The new law provides for integrating or ‘chaining’ of ports in a logistical way that benefits operations environmentally and financially, but if it doesn’t apply here then there’s not much point in me covering the rest of the article that the Diário deemed suitable for the front page …

‘Great Catch – First day of the Big Game Fishing was full of positive results’. A memorable day says the Diário, as 15 teams from 8 countries set off from Calheta to catch Blue Marlin fish. Within an hour two English fishermen had caught the first victim, after a 26 minute fight to get it on board, only to let it go again to comply with competition rules. The next catch was from an American team, who fought for 32 minutes to land their fish. The stories go on, and no doubt with the second day of the competition today, more such fascinating stories will appear tomorrow. Can someone remind me what this big game fishing is all about, and what are the benefits of terrorising and maiming a beautiful creature in the name of fun or even sport? Memorable day indeed … especially for those terrified and maimed Marlins.

(13th June). ‘An Authentic Diamond – COSTA LUMINOSA makes stop in Lisbon on it’s maiden voyage’. The new cruise ship of the Italian group Costa was in Lisbon on Wednesday, but will not come to Funchal until the 25th September. The ship is 292 metres long, weighs 92,700 tons, and carries up to 2,260 passengers. The Mediterranean / Atlantic cruise route that takes in Funchal will cost €1,044, but one can play golf, ice skate, play on Playstation 3, or enjoy nearly 5 thousand works of art (288 originals), or watch a film in the 4D cinema.

The 5 day mini-break last week was disappointing for Madeira’s rural tourism, and for smaller guest units, with occupation at around the 50% mark. Porto Santo has seen much better occupation rates with most places full, and Funchal and the traditional tourism large hotels have had bookings for on average around 75% of occupancy. The Summer ahead generally is not looking good so far for bookings.

(12th June). ‘Theme Park Has Already Taken €5 Million – In 5 years 312,000 visitors to the park that now looks to a new facility inspired by the stories and experiences of the Port of Funchal’. The ‘Parque Temático’ in Santana has not yet reached break-even point, but during the first 5 months of this year the number of visitors increased by 11.5%. According to figures released, which exclude concessions for children and the elderly, the average expenditure of a visitor is €29. That expenditure includes meals, souvenirs, and photographs. The park employs 25 people directly, but also uses 10 contractors for cleaning,gardening, and security.  A new entry price is to be introduced this Summer, allowing people to enter for €1.50, but without access to the amusements. Somebody has got to be having a laugh with the figure of €29 spend per adult head, there is no way the average family here could afford that.

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