Goa and Portugal can build on their historic connection and strengthen cooperation between the two regions by curating “special tourism packages for citizens” of both countries, according to Head of Training and Education at Turismo de Portugal, Ana Paula Pais, who was in Goa recently to participate in an international student exchange programme.
Pais, who represents the federal tourism authority in Portugal, also said that the delegation of Portuguese students and faculty got to learn and understand the cultures and traditions of people living in Goa, during their four week-long intensive exchange programme.
“We can improve promotion based on our historical connections, create specific packages and have more information. Initiatives like the one the Indian Minister of Tourism recently had with our government during our national tourism fair in Lisbon are very important to strengthen cooperation between the two countries,” Pais said.
The Portuguese delegation consisting of 12 students, drawn from 12 hospitality institutes in the Portugal, was hosted by the V.M.Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education (VMSIIHE), as part of the ‘Collaborative International Training and Education Program’ with Turismo de Portugal, in order to acquaint them with Goan hospitality, cuisine, and culture. Students from the Raia-based institute would participate in the second leg of the exchange programme, which is scheduled to be held in Portugal soon.
The four-week intensive programme included field trips, demo sessions with in-house faculty and visits to culturally significant Goan sites, including a spice farm, Dudhsagar waterfalls, Bhagwan Mahavir sanctuary, while also enjoying a traditional meal at a local temple in Ponda. The field tours also helped the delegation understand traditional businesses like feni production and baking. Members of the delegation also interacted with native tribal representatives to broaden their understanding of co-existing cultures in Goa.
VMSIIHE also conducted demo classes for the members of the delegation, teaching them skills from making Indian breads to understanding the different meats used in the Goan kitchens.
Speaking on the significant and valuable experiences attained through this cultural exchange program, Head of training and education at Turismo de Portugal, Ana Paula Pais, says “This is an extraordinary programme, which has provided a unique experience for our students, not only in a professional area, which is very important, but especially from a personal perspective. To be a professional of excellence in today's tourism industry, it is essential to have global knowledge about others, about other values, about other cultures, because we want to build an inclusive industry where respect for others and commitment to the preservation of the planet are the central elements.”
According to Prof. Irfan Mirza, Director and Principal of VMSIIHE, the programme gave the Portuguese delegation a chance to taste the cuisines of the country and respective states and learn and understand the culture of a foreign country.
“The exchange students got to learn and understand the cultures and traditions of people living in India. We also had a chance to understand the culture that they brought with them. Thus after going back to Portugal, the students can share with their families and friends their valuable experiences and a new perspective of Goa's rich heritage and culture,” Mirza said.
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