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Vitor de Sá Marques – HCR candidacy for BoD

2024 HCR Elections
  • HCR publishes the nominations for the 2024 election’s Board of Directors in the order in which the candidacy letter arrived in the official email of the Route.
  • The candidates with a short text present their views, ideas and strategy.

Dear members and friends of the Historic Cafés Route

I am Vítor Sá Marques and this is my presentation letter as a candidate for the Board of Directors (BoD) of the Historic Cafés Route (HCR), a Cultural Route certified by the Council of Europe.

This presentation will be divided in 2 parts: a brief resume of my experience and my vision for the future of the HCR.


I am the co-owner of Café Santa Cruz (Coimbra – Portugal), the President of the Portuguese Historic Cafés Association and the Project Leader of the Route of Portuguese Historic Cafés. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Historic Cafés Route, until the next elections.

I would like to give you some more information about my experience.

At Portuguese level:

• Degree in economics and a postgraduate in tourism management (University of Coimbra)
• Business consultant for EU funding projects, drawing up business plans and economic studies
• Participated as a speaker in different conferences in: Coimbra, Lisboa, Santiago de Compostela, Tours and Barcelona, with the theme: The Historic Cafés
• Invited to participate in podcasts, articles for newspapers, radio and TV programs, with the theme: The Historic Cafés
• Invited to give presentations on the theme of Historic Cafés from different courses at the University of Coimbra
• Organized the meetings: “Historic Cafés as Cultural Heritage” (2018) and “Historic Cafés: a Meeting of Ideas” (2022)
• Responsible for the editorial conception of the following books: Route of the Historic Cafés of Portugal (2016) and The Historic Cafés as Cultural Heritage: The Meeting (2020)
• Collaborated in the book: “The Cafés of Portugal: Tradition and Get-Togethers” and the philatelic issues (stamps and brochure), published by the Portuguese National Post office (CTT – Correios de Portugal) (2017)
• Speaker at the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of Café Calcinha (Loulé – 2019) and at the 100th anniversary of Café Majestic (Porto – 2022)
• Prepared the implementation of the National Day of Historic Cafés
• Prepared the program of the centenary of Café Santa Cruz (8th May 2023), where some events were reported by local and national media
• Organized meetings between representatives of the Cultural Routes in Portugal in order to promote common events
• Promote meetings between representatives of the Tourism of Portugal and the Ministery of Culture in order to promote the Portuguese Historic Cafés

At European level:

• Attended the Annual Advisory Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: Görlitz (2018), Sibiu (2019), Chania (2022) and Lodz (2023).
• European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN), awards 2020 – 1st price in the category of “Transnational Thematic Tourism Products” with the project: The Historic Cafés in the Iberian Peninsula (in partnership with Fernando Franjo – the Spanish ambassador of the HCR)
• Developed the project “Cafés no Caminho”, an artistic pilgrimage on Saint James Way, through the Historic Cafés from Coimbra to Santiago de Compostela. These performances could be: live music, magic shows, live painting, stand-up comedy, theatre presentations … (in partnership with Fernando Franjo – the Spanish ambassador of the HCR)
• Participation in “The Best in Heritage”, supported by Europa Nostra, in 2021
• Visited Cafés in cities in different European countries: Spain, France, Italy, England, Czech Republic, Greece, Romania, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Poland
• Represented the HCR at a conference in Torino (June 2023)
• Represented, as a speaker, the HCR at the Annual Advisory Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe in Lodz (September 2023)
Held meetings with the EPA representatives from of Estonia, Turkiye, Finland, Spain and Hungary
Represent the HCR at a general meeting with the certified Routes of the Council of Europe
• Prepared the Annual Activity Report 2023 of the HCR (for the Council of Europe)
• Member of 2 Workings Groups (WG) of the Task Force of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: WG of Cooperation and the WG of Tourism

The Historic Cafés Route, a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe

The Historic Cafés are unique examples of material heritage, but also symbolic landmarks of the intangible heritage of their local communities. They have managed to keep alive the tradition, the monumentality, the social memory and its identity, over several generations, while incorporating new commercial concepts, so that they remain competitive through the modernization of the adequate supply for the constant renovation of its customers.

The sum of the experiences of many years, is absorbed by going to these places and sitting for some time, drinking a coffee, reading a daily newspaper, a book, having meetings, some get-togethers … This is a fundamental element of approaching customers, from which they contribute to the process of affirming or (re)constructing the historical and identity of their cities.

Historic Cafés are places where you can still see the authenticity, genuineness and identity of the cities. Daily life passes through these places.

The Historic Cafés are part of each country history, heritage, traditions and identity. On the other hand, this legacy, these values (where culture is included), are also part of the European History, European Heritage and European Identity.

I think we need to have immediately concrete actions, considering that we will have in 2024-2025 the next regular evaluation – by the Council of Europe – of this Cultural Route.

We cannot lose more time.

In my opinion after these elections, the BoD should have (by topics):
• The Board of Directors (BoD) made up with members from different countries, with different experiences and backgrounds, but with a common vision of European values
• The Scientific Committee made up with members from different Universities: Coimbra, Santiago de Compostela, Tours, Torino, Sibiu and Athens
• The Ambassadors should be involved in the activities of the HCR
• More meetings between the members of the HCR and the creation of a newsletter
• Solving some urgent problems such as the creation of international statutes and solving internal issues, namely the problem of the Route Managers
• Promote a debate between Cultural Heritage vs Cultural Tourism – different experiences and perspectives
• Promoting with the Universities some summer workshops for their students.
Propose the University Network for Cultural Routes Studies as partner of the HCR, so that they encourage students for academic research on Historic Cafés
• Getting young people involved in our daily life, in our experiences (as students, as partners, as performers, …)
• Promoting meetings with different organizations, such as: UNESCO, UNWTO, ETC, Tourism Manifesto, ICOMOS, ICCROM, Europa Nostra, …
• Promoting common activities with other Cultural Routes, especially those ones which we have signed agreements. Thinking about and proposing events that will link our heritage, history, memory, traditions and values. We are building bridges for the future!
• Promoting meetings with EPA representatives in order to promote the Historic Cafés at local level and European level – promote local awareness of the importance of the Historic Cafés (perhaps through local press trips)
• Promoting meetings with Associations where we have Historic Cafés Members, for example,
France – Groupment National des Indépendants Hôtellerie & Restauration and L´Association des Bistrots, Terrasses et Cafés de France Austria – Klub der Wiener Kaffeehausbesitzer, Italy – Associazione Locali Storici d’Italia and the Associazione Caffè Storici di Torino e del Piemonte, Spain – Hostelería de España
• Enlarge the number of Historic Cafés members
• Meet the expectations of paying members who expect / presume some return from the Association to which they belong
• Be present at the Training Academy and the Annual Advisory Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe
• Promote an activity plan that include the actions mentioned before. In addition a library can be created (books, guides, published news and university articles), produce a book with the Historic Cafés members of the HCR (on paper and pdf) and produce a promotional film that can be used at the social media or at any other event. Produce promotional and publicity material, such as brochures. This activity plan should have a budget and then look out for funding’s.

These are some suggestions, ideas and contributions for the future, but some of them requires urgent measures and the next BoD needs to prioritize the actions to be taken.

Τo finance all these activities we have, among others, 2 possibilities: local financing and European financing. Each possibility can be used accordingly to the activity that is being held.

At this moment, the biggest challenge is to put the HCR on the move, resolving the most urgent matters, with cooperation, partnership, commitment and engagement among its members.

I have the strongest conviction that these are the key words to achieve successfully our goals.

This is the path: working together!

My vision, my dream, for the HCR in that it can contribute to greater awareness and recognition of its European cultural heritage and, in a near future, is for it to be the leading CR of the Council of Europe through best practices and best examples.

Thank you for reading these lines. I hope I will see you soon.

My best and warm regards.

Vítor de Sá Marques

“Each generation must make its own the struggles and achievements of previous generations and take them to still higher goals. (…) It is not possible to be satisfied with what has already been obtained in the past, nor to settle down to enjoy it (…).”  – Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, page 12, (11), Paulus Editora, October 2020

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