Ana Mendes Godinho, Portuguese secretary of state for tourism, wound up a four-day official visit to Korea on Sept. 9, designed to cement bilateral ties between the two countries in the tourism sector. It was her first visit here.
An MOU has been signed on a college- and university-level student exchange program - one in which Korean tourism students will go to Portugal to learn about the Portuguese economy and wine, while Portuguese students will come here to learn about the Korean economy.
“This is a great way to promote relations between the two countries, and it helps both countries get to know each other better in terms of culture,” Secretary Godinho said. In the future, she said, this will help the two countries get links in other countries.
The Portuguese delegation included Secretary Godinho,: Filipe Silva, executive director of Tourimo de Portugal; Nuno Alves, an advisor of vice minister of tourism; Mrs. Catarian Sousa Pinto, a member of Turismo de Portugal; Domingos Neves, president of ACISO; Maria Mineiro, vice president of the Institute; Filipe Mendes of Fatima Expresso,: Sergio Bentes of Argon Travel; Joao Pedro Coelho, director of sales at Melia Hotels; Jorge Reis, CEO of Melia Hotels; Jose Miguel Seabra Marto, managing director of Hotel Roma; and Alexandre Marto Pereira, CEO of Fatima Hotel Group.
Secretary Godinho, President Pedro Machado of Tourism of Center, Portugal, and President Domingos Neves of ACISO gave a congratulatory speech at a seminar, titled “Fatima, the Spiritual Center of Portugal” at the Conference Hall A of the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry on the morning of Sept. 8. Filipe Silva, executive director of Tourimo de Portugal, gave a presentation on Portugal as a tourism destination, while ACISO President Neves introduced Fatima as a religious tourist destination.
Secretary Godinho said there were one-on-one business meetings to promote package tours to Fatima. Fatima is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the seeing of the Virgin Mary. Portugal wants to make Fatima a pilgrimage tour destination for Korean Catholics. There are approximately 5 million Catholics in Korea.
Portugal and Korea have many things in common, Secretary Godinho said. To name a few, she said, Portuguese food is similar to Korean food. A Portuguese was the first European to discover not only Asia but also ancient Korea in the 15h and 16th centuries. A Portuguese drew the first map of ancient Korea. Pepper, an ingredient of kimchi, Korea’s main side dish, was brought to Korea.
Portuguese is a people welcoming of foreigners, which experience no language barriers since about 60 percent of its people speak English. Portugal boasts many breathtaking tourism destinations, including 21 UNESCO sites. Portugal attracts about 21 million foreign tourists annually. Secretary Godinho said Portugal discovered the world hundreds years ago, but now the country is being discovered by other continents.
ACISO hosted a Portugal network dinner at the Hanmiri Restaurant in downtown Seoul in the evening of the day, which served as an opportunity for Portuguese and Korean business people to network.
Ana Mendes Godinho, Portuguese secretary of state for tourism, her delegates, Mrs. Joana Neves, head of Mission for Trade & Investment, and others pose for a photo session at a Portugal network dinner at the Hanmiri Restaurant in downtown Seoul on Sept. 8.