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Innovation and sustainability of the new Algarve tourism sail aboard a solar boat

By Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

Four entrepreneurs linked to innovation and sustainability presented their projects to the Secretary of State for Tourism, aboard the new solar catamaran

The Secretary of State for Tourism with Pedro Mestre, CEO of Algarve Sun Boat Trips

Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

A 12-metre catamaran powered only by solar energy, with a capacity for 30 people, designed to tour the Arade River and the Algarve coast, made with «99% Portuguese technology».

This is the «Sun Cat I», the new vessel of the start up company Algarve Sun Boat Trips, which is already operating in the Algarve, having had, on its maiden voyage, the presence of several special passengers, including Rita Marques , the Secretary of State for Tourism.

Pedro Mestre, CEO of Algarve Sun Boat Trips, stressed that the new maritime-tourist vessel is «an investment made with 99% Portuguese technology and know-how. There's only 1% that we couldn't even if it was Portuguese technology, being from an Icelandic company».

And what is this Icelandic technology? It is a complement to the application that can be downloaded and, through the GPS signal, it sends information on the customer's mobile phone about the points of patrimonial or scenic interest, as they pass through them during the boat journey. As a mobile phone signal is not required, as it uses GPS technology, information can be accessed more reliably and anywhere on the tour. This also prevents that, on board, that background noise of the guide's voice, always debiting information.

This is because, as Pedro Mestre pointed out (and all the special passengers on that inaugural tour noted), silence is another of the distinguishing factors of the solar catamaran. You can almost only hear the wind, the lapping of water on the hulls, the screams of seagulls… and the voices of those on board, since the engine is silent. And there's no annoying smell of engine exhaust.

However, "this silence must also be filled with something that makes the trip attractive." The fact that the vessel is powered by solar energy, silent, non-polluting, is only “the gateway to an experience that, on the whole, is different from any maritime-tourist experience. We don't just put solar panels on a boat, we want to provide an unique experience», said the entrepreneur.

Algarve Sun Boat Trips is the first maritime tourism company in the Algarve to operate with a 100% ecological fleet, with no carbon emissions, on electro-solar vessels that allow comfortable, quiet and, above all, environmentally friendly trips.

Algarve Sun Boat Trips' investment in sustainable mobility aims to «position the company as one of the main ecologically responsible players operating in the tourist entertainment market in Portugal». Its CEO Pedro Mestre says that “a normal catamaran for 30 people consumes at least 215 liters of fuel per 100 nautical miles.

After a year, this new catamaran saves the environment from the emission of 50 tonnes of CO2. This is the future we want for the Algarve and for our planet». But not everything has been rosy for Algarve Sun Boat Trips. «Our first experience, with the other solar vessel we have, was in 2017. It took us four years to get here», a time marked above all, according to the businessman, by «licensing tests». Speaking to Sul Informação, Pedro Mestre revealed that the new solar vessel represents an «investment of about half a million euros, generating three permanent jobs and six to seven jobs at the peak of activity in the summer».

Secretary of State for Tourism with Pedro Mestre, CEO da Algarve Sun Boat Trips

Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

Aboard the new catamaran, three other entrepreneurs followed, all linked to Start Up Portimão, operated by the company Territórios Criativos and the Municipality of Portimão and which is headquartered at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. And, thanks to the silence of the trip, between Marina de Portimão and Leixão das Gaivotas, in front of Praia dos Caneiros, it was possible for each of them to present their projects.

The first was Pedro Glória, who presented his SWRS project, an innovative system for reusing gray water from toilets and saving between 30% and 40% of drinking water, whether in a house or a hotel, without the need to do so. construction. This project earned Pedro Glória the 1st prize in the Green Up program and is now starting to be implemented in a reference resort in the Barlavento Algarve.

The second was Pedro Esteves, who launched a gastronomic coworking space in Portimão. In an old restaurant located in the city center, Pedro created a space with all the conditions of an industrial kitchen for the production of food, catering, etc., which can be rented by other people or companies, «for one day, two days, every day. weeks, only once a month, in short, when these people need it». The success has been so much that the gastronomic coworking has its capacity occupied by 80%, with the early hours only being available. «If, at this moment, I opened a similar space in Faro, I would already have four brands wanting to work with me».

The third entrepreneur to speak was Izabella Guzsvan, from TULAlabs. It is a foreign startup, linked to the automotive and robotics sector, which installed itself in the Algarve incubator, taking advantage of the potential generated by the fact that it operates at the Algarve International Autodrome. TULAlabs is developing “disruptive transport solutions for people and goods”, namely a passenger transport line in electric, non-polluting and driverless vehicles.

The Sun Cat docked at the Portimão Marina

Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

For his part, João Fernandes, president of RTA, despite the dark clouds hanging over tourism and economic activity in the region, made a point of stressing that both the project for the solar maritime-tourist vessel, as well as the three others, presented during the short walk, are «signs that make me calmer, because they mean that the energy will not stop».

As for the “Sun Cat I” catamaran, the responsible for tourism in the Algarve had no doubts in stating that it was “a pioneering project that will show others what the path can be”. Miguel Barbosa, from Portugal Ventures, after recalling that, «to be an entrepreneur, you need a little courage, a mixture of madness, feet on the ground and the will to fight hard», recalled that the new solar catamaran is the second. supported investment in the Algarve. The first had been, in 2009, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Luís Matos Martins, from Território Criativos, stressed that “this type of tourist product is transformative, because it encourages the diversity and complementarity of tourism, gastronomy, culture and heritage, sustainability, renewable energies”.

Tours on the two solar boats of the Algarve Sun Boat Trips depart from the Marina de Portimão, aboard the «Sun Cat» (the 12-metre catamaran) or the Sunsailer (the 7-metre monohull). By sea, to Carvoeiro, Algar Seco and Benagil or towards the sunset, or upriver to Silves, with prices between 30 and 50 euros per person or 85 euros/hour in the case of a private rental, taking one of these ecological boats will undoubtedly be one of the experiences of the Algarve summer of 2021.



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