EU finances sustainable tourism model on Maio Island in Cape Verde

The historic importance of salt in the life of Maio is highlighted in the new Interpretation Center of Salinas do Porto Inglês.

The European Union (EU) will finance with three million euros a development program for the Cape Verdean island of Maio, to reinforce the model of sustainable tourism and integrated with the local community, it was announced this Sunday.

The announcement was made during the joint visit that the EU ambassador, Sofia Moreira de Sousa, and the ambassadors of the Member States residing in Cabo Verde (Europe Team) are carrying out to the island of Maio since Saturday, together with the Cabo Verdean President. Verdean, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, and the deputy prime minister, Olavo Correia.

The visit served to formalize the closing of the solidarity and community tourism project on the island of Maio, “which worked to boost traditional economic activities and revitalize youth entrepreneurship”, said a source at the EU Embassy.

Also on the island of Maio, together with the City Council and partners from civil society, such as the Marquês Valle Flor Institute (IMVF), the Mértola Heritage Defense Association and the Maio Biodiversidade Foundation, the “joint commitment” in territorial development program “May 2025”, which has a European contribution of three million euros.

“Aiming to reinforce a sustainable tourism model, this funding will contribute to the consolidation of the economic and social fabric, reinforcing the integration of the local community in the island’s tourism economy”, explained the same source, adding that the program foresees the creation of a Business Center in Maio, the professional qualification of young people, environmental conservation actions and the strengthening of awareness, among other actions.

In recent years, through European and Member State funding, the island of Maio has already benefited from urban requalification programs, improving access to water and sanitation, or the construction of an interpretation centre for the Salinas, in addition to the rehabilitation of schools.

The EU Embassy in Cape Verde guarantees that investment in the island of Maio will continue with the focus, in the coming years, on “a model of green and inclusive economic growth”, centered on green tourism and job creation, renewable energies, widespread access to water and sanitation, and in the blue economy.

“With the pandemic crisis, this bet becomes even more relevant as it will contribute to a more sustainable development model, and may differentiate and enhance Maio in relation to other tourist markets. The promotion of the “Green Economy” is an ambition shared by the Union European Union and Cape Verde”, highlights the Embassy, ​​in a statement about this visit.

The historic importance of salt in the life of Maio is highlighted in the new Interpretation Center of Salinas do Porto Inglês, inaugurated in 2019, promoted by the Portuguese non-governmental organization (NGO) IMVF, included in the support of the EU.

The project is the responsibility of the IMVF, co-financed by the European Union and the Camões Institute in more than 101 thousand euros, executed in partnership with the municipal councils of Loures and Maio.

Over the centuries, tons of salt has been extracted from the salt pans on that island over the centuries, essentially in a traditional way, a product that since the 17th century has placed May on the map of traders, interested in a business that was once more profitable when it was exported to Brazil.

The activity remains markedly artisanal, but the local cooperative, formed by women from the island of Maio and boosted by this project by the Portuguese NGO, has been developing new market niches for its commercialization, including tourism.

According to a source from the IMVF, it is “a space for the cultural promotion of the island of Maio within which the history and culture of the island will be disseminated and shared”.

“With special emphasis on the role of the salt pans and the salt trade. A Bird Observation Post and Trails will also be inaugurated for tours in this protected area, with the aim of promoting nature tourism on the island, valuing the landscape features and the fauna of the salt flats”, highlights the IMVF.

The Tourism Dynamization and Requalification Project on Ilha do Maio started in March 2016, aiming to improve the living conditions of the local population, promoting local entrepreneurship and urban requalification as factors of sustainable socio-economic, tourist and cultural development.

It directly benefits 20 women, members of the Sal do Maio Cooperative, ten artisans and small local producers, six municipal technicians, in addition to supporting 13 community associations.

Indirectly, the promoters guarantee that the 8,000 inhabitants of Maio benefit from this project, which involved the creation of an intensive saline, including therapeutic salt baths, as well as the improvement of the facilities of the Salt Cooperative itself that exists on the island.

UE financia modelo de turismo sustentável na ilha cabo-verdiana do Maio – Cofina Media