Since winning a national tourism award last year, thanks to the new Bookinxisto reservation platform, the Schist Villages of Central Portugal are going on to gain world recognition.

Schist Villages are among Portugal‘s most ancient urban dwellings, existing since prehistoric times. The area near to Coimbra in Central Portugal still shows traces today of this human activity, such as engravings carved into the rock, or sets of rocks, which constitute an invaluable historical and archaeological heritage of the territory,

These villages enjoyed flourishing times during the Middle-Ages but were mostly abandoned at the turn of the 20th century.

A rehabilitation project has been under way since 2000. The revitalisation project is based on 27 villages distributed throughout the interior of the Central Region of Portugal. The Schist Villages Network acknowledges the regional tourism potential reflected in architecture, environmental amenities, gastronomy and traditions, among other distinctive cultural elements presented in products and services.

The Schist Village Network is a regional sustainable development project, led by ADXTUR, the Agency for the Tourism Development of Schist Villages, in partnership with 21 local Municipalities, with more than 200 private operators working in the territory.

The national Tourism Award received at the end of last year was supported by Turismo de Portugal. The Prize recognises projects that have developed innovative digital applications and services in the area of ​​tourism, as well as projects integrating public and private initiatives.

ADXTUR, the Agency for Tourism Development of Schist Villages, is today a public-private, supra-municipal regional cooperation platform, anchored in a continuous, careful and specialised process to encourage the return of population, favouring investments with a concept for a sustainable future.

The booking platform is called Bookinxisto. It is a multi-service reservation centre available in five languages. Its main purpose is not only to foster a digital communication, distribution and sale of the 27 Schist Villages (Aldeias do Xisto). It also aims to create a close relationship with customers. It is viewed by ADXTUR as a crucial means to generating or regenerating the tourism business. It is also helping to strengthen the Aldeias do Xisto brand.

Fishing are among the numerous activities proposed in the Schist Villages
Janeiro de Cima, fishing activities (Photo: Turismo de Portugal)

Providing a sense of flexibility to travellers

The presence of the booking engine on the website of Tourism Portugal helps integrate both national and international distribution channels. The digital platform has already generated increased use of the tourist attraction, reducing seasonality and maximising a permanent presence of the villages.

It also promotes exceptional natural landscapes. The territory has four classified nature areas that are among the moist significant in Portugal. The Aldeias do Xisto also has the highest number of fluvial beaches in Portugal. They are grouped inside the “Network of Fluvial Beaches Aldeias do Xisto”. 15 of them are designated “Blue Flag beaches”, according to the latest classification of the Blue Flag of Europe Association. Sporting activities in the area include road cycling, mountain biking, hiking, trail running, canoeing and climbing.

For the consumer, Bookinxisto helps in organising a stay in the region not only by finding the accommodation but also by suggesting restaurants, transport or relevant activities according to the consumer profile. It also guarantees that consumers will have access to fair pricing as there are no intermediaries or commissions. The booking engine also helps to affirm Portugal as a “smart” destination. 

As the situation can still fluctuate due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Schist Villages Network recently launched the possibility for travellers to purchase vouchers worth €100, €200 and €500, to be used until the end of 2021 in Bookinxisto website. Travellers can use the purchased vouchers any time they wish to pay for their future accommodation, restaurants or activities.

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