Apolónia Rodrigues, born in 1973 in Aveiro, has a degree in Tourism Management and Planning from Aveiro University, is a champion of animal welfare with special affection for the “little felines”, she has always fallen 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, is currently the President of the Dark Sky® Association, and President of the Rede de Turismo de Aldeia do Alentejo. 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. 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.