Tourism - Past and Present

Santa Catarina Park
Santa Catarina Park

Madeira Island lives off tourism, a highly important industry that is one of the main sources of economy. The number of tourists that visit this pearl of the Atlantic increases from year to year. Nearly an estimated one million tourists visited Madeira last year. Madeira is very well known tourist destination, especially by the British and Germans, as well as the Scandinavians. The type of tourist that visits Madeira requires a bigger "wallet" as there is no "mass tourism" or "low-cost tourism".

Luxury Cruises
The Port of Funchal

Previously, ships would make quick stops in Madeira to recharge on charcoal. Today, very large cruise ships have listed Funchal as a port of call on their trans-atlantic and european itineraries. Thousands of passengers are brought to the port of Funchal every year who not only tour downtown Funchal, but go on picturesque excursions throughout the island.

Santa Catarina International Airport
Santa Catarina International Airport

The Airport...

The "Santa Catarina Airport" first inaugurated in 1964 is a Madeira Island´s major gateway for the arrival and departure of tourists. In the year 2000 Santa Catarina International Airport´s runway was extended to 1020 meters thus establishing better means for the landing of larger aircrafts.


Armas - The New Ferry

The Spanish maritime company "Naviera Armas" established this year a new ferry line that connects Portugal (Portimão) to Madeira and the Canary Islands. Tourists are allowed (at an extra fee) to bring their vehicles with them to either destination allowing them to explore the island thoroughly at their own pace.

The British Way of Life...

The English were the first official tourists in Madeira Island. By the nineteeth century, Britain´s rich and noble began to recognize Madeira as a holiday destination. The island´s mild and well-balanced climate attracted many British to temporarily reside in Madeira Island.

In the suburb of Monte, located in north Funchal city, traces of British influence are visibly noticeable. Many of the Britished owned "Quintas" (Farm manors) were bought and have long served as popular hotels.

Reids - The Legendary Hotel

In 1891 Scotsman William Reid opened a luxurious hotel in Funchal, The Reid´s Palace Hotel. The first guests at the hotel were the upperclass wealthy British, but as the years went by, the clientele became more "international". Many well known personalities have stayed at Reids. Some of these personalities are:

  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Winston Churchill
  • Empress Elisabeth (Sissi)
  • Rainer Maria Rilkel

William Reid played a major role in establishing Madeira Island´s hotel industry.

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