The Algarve tourism sector is looking for alternatives to the British market, which represents around a third of overnight stays in the region and almost half of passengers who disembark at Faro Airport, still expecting the British Government to reverse its position.
“Let us not be under any illusions, because a market that represents one third of the foreign markets does not have a quick solution to fill this gap,” the president of the Algarve Tourism board (RTA) told Lusa. João Fernandes points out that “almost half (49%)” of the four and a half million passengers disembarked at Faro Airport “are from the United Kingdom” and, in terms of overnight stays, “represent a third (33%)” of the total overnight stays from the foreign market, with six million overnight stays in hotels.
He also points out that there are “100 thousand beds of local accommodation used” as well as “about 200 thousand second homes”, which are not included in the calculations of the National Statistics Institute”.
Portugal was excluded from a list of countries with which the United Kingdom established an air corridor, in a system that will come into force today and does require to quarantine for anyone who arrives on British soil from the countries on that list. Until now, anyone arriving from abroad to the UK had to stay in isolation for 14 days or risk a fine of £1,000 (1,100 euros).
The president of the Algarve Tourism Region considered that the only market that can “make a buffer effect to the British is the national”, being also the one that “usually has more presence in July and August”. Therefore, he defended that it is necessary to “reinforce the demand of Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, Irish and Italians”, markets that must be explored in the “diversification of the bet”.
“We recently launched a campaign for the domestic market, which is also reflected in the Spanish, English, German, Dutch, Irish and French markets, our main markets,” said João Fernandes.
In the region, the decrease in tourists is easily noticeable, for example, on a stroll along the beach or on the promenade of Quarteira, in the municipality of Loulé, which is usually full at this time of year.
“We are working with what we have today, because we are dependent on the issuing markets,” he said. In the various scenarios that he outlined for this summer, the objective was “to stay within the costs of the operation, using “as little as possible” of the financing they made.
“We are hoping that this will happen, but it will be an extremely difficult year,” he admitted. He was confident that “as soon as the conditions of the British to visit Portugal and the Algarve are changed, maybe at the end of the month, the demand will be greater”.
“Until then, we are on stand-by”, said the regional delegate of the Portuguese Hotel Association. For the official, it is necessary to do “incisive diplomatic work” and also “bring journalists from the great British media” to be in the region and “feel and convey the image that there is no problem and the pressure of the pandemic is not felt”. He concluded by stressing that the Algarve “has a very strong image and will come out stronger”.