18-20 October 2023, Cuenca, Spain

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Susana Malón

Apolónia Rodrigues has a degree in Tourism Management and Planning from Aveiro University and she has always been in love with the challenges in creating new destinations and future trends in sustainable tourism. She started her professional career in the Tourism Region of Évora in 1998, where she implemented several projects until 2007. Founder and creator of the destination brand Dark Sky® and Dark Sky® Alqueva, she is currently the President of the Dark Sky® Association, and President of the Genuineland – Village Tourism. She also coordinates the European Network of Places of Peace since 2010. Between 2010 and 2016 she was co-leader of the Task Force Indicators (NIT). NIT was created by NECSTouR – Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism, Brussels, Belgium. Between 2014 and 2016 she was a member of ETIS POOL of Experts, a group created by DG Grow, European Commission, to develop and test the European System of Tourism Indicators for sustainable practices and destination management. Between 2005 and 2014, Apolónia was a member of the Tourism Sustainability Group (TSG), a group that created the Agenda for the European Sustainable and Competitive Tourism, where she took on the co-leadership of the Working Indicators Group. This group was set up by DG Grow of the European Commission. Between 2009 and 2013 she was also a member of the Eureka European Tourism Advisory Committee.

International Awards and Distinctions: In 2007 her European Network of Village Tourism project was honored with the Ulysses Prize of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. In 2016, IDA awarded Apolónia with the Dark Sky Defender Award. In 2020 in addition to The Bizz Award given by Worldcob, she received the distinction of World Businessperson and by the ACQ5 Global Awards the distinction of Gamechanger of the Year. With her Dark Sky® Alqueva project, it received the Runner Up award from the Ulysses Prize in 2013, and in 2019 the Bronze CTW Chinese Welcome Award. In the same year, Dark Sky® Alqueva received a Tourism Oscar from the World Travel Awards as Europe’s Responsible Tourism Award 2019.

In the year of 2020 in the middle of this pandemic situation, Dark Sky® Alqueva and Dark Sky® Association received other different distinctions. In February, Dark Sky® Alqueva was awarded a Corporate Travel Awards, as Europe’s Leading Tourist Destination 2020, followed by a distinction awarded by the Business Intelligence Group, the Sustainability Leadership Award 2020. In October, Dark Sky® Alqueva became part of the Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100 by Green Destinations, and in November, it received the ACQ5 Global Awards in the category of Company of the Year (Astrotourism) and received three Tourism Oscars Awards from the World Travel Awards, such as Europe’s Responsible Tourism Award 2020Europe’s Leading Tourism Project 2020 and World’s Leading Tourism Project 2020.

In 2020 the Dark Sky® Association also received The Bizz and The Peak of Success, given by Worldcob and an ACQ5 Country Awards, in the category of Portugal – Best Practice Operator of the Year (Astrotourism).

All Sessions by Susana Malón