Apolónia Rodrigues, Dark Sky Association, Portugal
I’m the President of Dark Sky Association, a non profit organization, and coordinator of the European Network of Places of Peace. With a degree in Management and Planning in Tourism by the University of Aveiro, I count with more than 20 years working in tourism. During my way, I embarked in getting specialized in creation and management of Sustainable Destinations and future tendencies. In 2007, I initiated the Dark Sky® concept and brand to develop destinations having the protected night sky as its basis and differentiator element. Started with the Dark Sky® Alqueva, the first Starlight Tourism Destination of the world and also the first cross-border. And nowadays, in result of two partnerships (ADXTUR and ADRVT), the Network grew and it has being added Dark Sky Aldeias do Xisto and Dark Sky Vale do Tua. It is around 13.000,00 square kilometers of Portugal.
Dark Sky® Alqueva and the Dark Sky® Association have been awarded with several awards: World Travel Awards 2019, I International Starlight Awards 2019, Corporate Travel Awards 2020, ACQ5 2020, THE BIZZ 2020 among others in 2013 and 2016.
The European Network of Places of Peace is a network of villages, cities and small towns located in nine countries joining Places where Peace Treaties where signed. The Places of Peace Route allows the tourist to visit the heritage linked to these important moments of the creation of Europe, and with it learn and feel the culture of peace.
My most important concept and brand were developed during the economic crisis that affected Europe and many other countries and especially Portugal. But it was not only the main challenge. Working with a medium and long term view and based in future tendencies is a big challenge due to the way tourism is mainly developed. So, I had to overcome many obstacles coming from everyone and every type of organization. That gave me a different perspective and helped me to be more creative, more efficient with few economic resources, and find always a way to reach my objective, my goal, my mission.