About Funchal, Portugal’s sixth city and Chinese investments
Portugal is not only about the yellow trams of the melancholy Lisbon, nor about the booming industry and Douro River of the northern city of Porto: one of its symbols, apart from the main and yet linked to it, is Madeira Island. Today we talk about Portugal’s sixth city and Chinese investments and the controversies they have given rise to.
Three years after they were conducted (after a strangely long time span indeed), Portugal released the results of the 2011 statistics establishing Funchal as the sixth city in Portugal when it comes to the number of inhabitants. The Office for National Statistics made the top of seven towns with over 100 000 citizens: Lisbon, Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Amadora, Braga, Coimbra and Funchal.
Funchal City and Madeira in general seems to attract more and more visitors – many of whom come to stay, and according to statistics, Canico is the region in Madeira that has the fastest recorded population growth.
Generally speaking, what could go wrong in the paradise-like Island of the Eternal Spring? With all this sun and the immense ocean at your feet, with the cosmopolitan air and slow enticing pace of life, Madeira is an ideal place… for tourists. Residents also love their home-… island, but they do complain about the economy – perhaps not surprisingly, since the whole word is resurfacing after a rather severe period of crisis.
In this context, the cheap shops opened by the Chinese seemed like a happy, welcome option… at first. All too soon, however, local producers realized the competition brought about by the Chinese investors was hard to match. This is where the Chinese controversy stemmed from. Alexandre Soares dos Santos, former president of the Jeronimo Martins SGPS food distribution chain, openly scorned Chinese investments, blaming it for the downfall of many traditional Portuguese retailers who cannot keep up with the new competition.
In today’s context, however, tourism in Madeira remains the main source of revenue, and it’s a win win situation for everyone: if you travel to Madeira, you will enjoy a wonderful experience!