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Fladgate to build €100m tourist attraction in Porto

Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, is to start work next month on a €100 million visitor attraction called The World of Wine on the southern side of the Douro in Porto.

view-over-site-from-the-yeatman
The World of Wine will occupy the area of bare ground and six warehouses directly beneath the swimming pool and lawns of The Yeatman hotel in the foreground

Occupying more than 30,000 m2, the planned facility will incorporate a museum on the history of Porto, a museum on the cork industry, a wine school, a slow food restaurant and events space, along with nine further restaurants, a retail area, and a fashion and design museum to celebrate the textile industry of northern Portugal.

Speaking to the drinks business last month in Porto about the project, Bridge said that he would start preparing the site in November, and expected to open The World of Wine in 2020.

He also said that “there would be no problem raising funds” for the project, which he said would cost between €80m and €100m, explaining that there were government funds for regeneration, along with European Commission funds that offered as much as 20 years without any interest.

In terms of visitors, Bridge told db that he was conservatively forecasting that The World of Wine would attract one million visitors annually, but said that he believed the attraction would easily exceed such a number.

“Last year visitors to Port cellars exceeded one million for the first time, and there were 6m people through Porto’s airport, and ‘bed nights’ in the city totalled 1.7m, and hotel revenues have increased by 50% in the last four years,” he said, highlighting the expanding tourism industry in Porto, and justifying his forecasted 1m visitors to The World of Wine.

Furthermore, he said that tourists were coming to the city despite the fact that “there is no major visitor attraction ­– the only big buildings in the city are churches, or owned by the church.”

The World of Wine will be developed on a site in Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern banks of the river Douro on land owned by The Fladgate Partnership that is currently filled with empty warehouses just beneath the group’s 83-room hotel called The Yeatman.

“We have a load of warehouses that are incredibly well located and not used for ageing Port anymore because we have put that in the Douro,” said Bridge, referring to the group’s modern winery and ageing facility at Quinta da Nogueira in the Douro.

“Organising the Port business has been our primary objective and in doing that we have freed up a lot of land,” he added.

“We could sell the warehouses but we don’t want a property developer to put something ugly on our doorstep,” he said, talking about the environs of The Yeatman luxury hotel.

“And I would rather we told the story of Port,” he stated.

Concluding he said, “Port is our core business but tourism is synergistic… in today’s world the consumer is knocking on our door, so it makes huge sense to be welcoming them here, and you can make a connection with them that you will never make through a PowerPoint presentation on the other side of the world.”

Adrian Bridge is CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, which owns the Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft Port houses, as well as CEO of The Yeatman, a luxury hotel in Porto containing the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.

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