- Created on Friday, 22 June 2012 18:00
The permissions for a massive development next to the Salgados bird sanctuary to the east of Armaçao de Pêra has been signed in Silves. An investment of more than €232 million will boost jobs in the area, and Silves Câmara’s coffers by €35 million over ten years in license income, stamp duty and rates.
"This is a project that allows to the development of this specific area of the county," said Isabel Soares, president Silves Câmara (CMS), who added that the development "will give greater sustainability to everything that is planned in relation to tourism, based on our Strategic Development Plan of the municipality."
The project by Finalgarve-Sociedade de Promoção Imobiliaria Turistica S.A. includes three hotels, five holiday villages, shops, roads and an 18 hole golf course.
According to Francisco Menezes Ferreira of holding company Grupo Galilei, representing developer subsiduary Finalgarve, the infrastructure will be built starting in 2013. In 2015, if everything goes as planned, the first tourists can be catered for with the completion of the infrastructure and the building of the first hotel.
Stage 1 is to build all general infrastructure and access roads in the area, a water supply, sanitation, organisation of access to the beaches and the tourist units. Some €232.4 million is to be invested in an area of 247 hectares.
The development will be phased, as the promoters do not yet have the funds to complete the entire project, but hope to attract foreign investors as time goes
One of the main benefits of this development plan, according to those promoting it, is jobs, 1,516 of them that will have a positive impact on the local economy. "These job numbers are of the utmost importance, especially when the Algarve is the region with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Silves feels the need to help out in the labour market, especially for our young people," Isabel Soares said.
Another significant benefit to Silves Câmara is additional revenue over ten years of an estimated €35 million.
"Putting Silves on the regional and national map (and even international) by increasing the attractiveness of our territory, and by asserting our identity and introducing innovation and knowledge as tools for everyday work," said Soares, stating that Silves "has a glorious legacy, which is important to preserve and promote. Silves also has excellent natural resources, among which is the beautiful Praia Grande...the signing of this agreement is to make sure that this (tourism) strategy comes to fruition."
The detailed plan for Praia Grande was approved by the Municipality of Silves by a resolution at the Municipal Assembly of 7 December 2007, with publication in the Official Gazette on January 11, 2008.
A word from the developer
The Praia Grande project is aimed at upper-class tourists and not at passengers flying on 'low cost' airlines, according to the developer.
According to the airport operator ANA, almost three quarters of passengers arriving at Faro airport in 2011 traveled by 'low cost' carriers, but the Finalgarve management have decided on appealing to the medium to high segment of the market as its target, hence the two five-star hotels, and a four star hotel.
The developers said that the construction will respect the fundamental principle of the preservation of nature, reflected in the fact that all buildings will have a maximum of three floors, which will not exceed 15 metres in height.
"From the standpoint of nature, the proximity of the resort and the golf course to the beach is unique because there is nothing equal to this piece of land in southern Portugal or southern Spain," said Francisco Menezes Ferreira from Finalgarve.
While acknowledging that the consortium responsible for the project does not actually have the €234 million to complete the project’s first phase, Ferreira said that the money is guaranteed and that all the funding will come "in two or three years, when this crisis is over."
The first phase will cover 247 hectares, and the final project will have covered 359 hectares. The first of the two five-star hotels is planned to be completed in mid 2017, the second in late 2018 and the four-star hotel is scheduled for completion in mid 2023.
The Finalgarve website describes the project thus "Localizado em Silves, no sul do País, este futuro resort de luxo desenvolve-se ao longo de 3 Km de praias privadas. Desenvolvido numa área de cerca de 247 ha de vegetação única no país, realçando toda a beleza, o conforto e a serenidade do local, este empreendimento, de qualidade superior, prevê 3 Unidades hoteleiras de 5 estrelas, 5 Aldeamentos turísticos, com acesso directo à praia e um campo de golf de 18 buracos."
A word from the developer's holding company
Future of Grupo Galilei "is difficult," says group president
On the same day that the Praia Grande development was announcesd in Silves, the president of the holding company Grupo Galilei was appearing in a four hour parliamentary committee grilling. He said that the future of the group "is difficult" and that it may have to dismiss 1,500 employees if they have to pay a fine (estimated at €4 million) imposed by the Bank of Portugal for its involvement in the BPN banking scandal.
Fernando Lima, who heads the group that rose from the ashes of the Lusa Business Society (SLN), was questioned by members of the parliamentary committee of inquiry, not only on the nationalisation and privatisation of BPN, but also on the current situation of the Grupo Galilei which includes dozens of companies, including Finalgarve which is to build the Priaia Grande development.
Fernando Lima said that "the future is difficult," and explained that he recently had written to over one thousand shareholders stating that "the group is viable, but that is had great difficulties to overcome."
How the destruction, partial ot total, of a well known wildlife zone and the impact on the adjacent bird sanctuary at Salgados, a name that was missing from today's announcement from Silves Câmara, can preserve Silves’ glorious natural legacy remains to be seen.
The development does not include the lagoon area vital to birdlife, but the impact of many years of planned construction will certainly impact on the settled nature of this habitat.
The developer's spokesman stated that "there is nothing equal to this piece of land in southern Portugal or southern Spain."
So again we see that big business gets its way, the Câmara thinks it will receive income to prop up its accounts, (does it not remember Amendoeira nearby?) and only now do we sit up and realise that another part of Portugal's wildlife areas is to be developed into more of the same.
However the Grupo Galilei chariman's statement that he may have to lay off 1,500 staff is the company has to pay the fine imposed in the wake of the BNP scandal, means the project based on the promise of new jobs may never get started.
Soares' statement in Portuguese
"Afirmar Silves no panorama regional e nacional (e até internacional) passa por aumentar a atratividade do nosso território, afirmando a nossa identidade e introduzindo a inovação e o conhecimento como ferramentas quotidianas de trabalho."
"Silves possui um legado histórico glorioso, que é importante preservar e dar a conhecer, e que é, em si mesmo, mais um fator diferenciador e promotor do progresso, como tenho vindo a afirmar. Possui, igualmente, excelentes recursos naturais, entre os quais a belíssima Praia Grande, localizada na Freguesia de Pêra, fatores que nos permitem ambicionar mais e melhor no que toca à oferta turística relacionada com o sol e o mar e a assinatura deste contrato é a certeza de que essa estratégia chegará a bom porto», concluiu a autarca."
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