“Ferry connection between Algarve and Morocco is a priority”
Despite being aware of the economic failure of the Portimão to Madeira ferry service, the honorary consul of the Kingdom of Morocco, based in Albufeira, continues to insist that a ferry link between the north African country and the Algarve is a splendid idea – which it is but no one is prepared to subsidise it.
Tangier is all set to host any new ferry service, with Faro and Portimão the two options in the Algarve. This maritime link is, apparently, one of Morocco’s top priorities, and one to which the government is “deeply committed.”
The honorary consul says the link has “a fundamental strategic interest” for the two countries and in this, his ambassador, Othamne Bahnini, “is deeply committed.”
“Certainly, the shipping companies that apply will make the best choice,” added honourary consul, José Alberto Alegria, in an interview with Jornal do Algarve, adding that, “such a project contains, beyond mere economic aspects, an interest strategic importance for our two countries that should be widely considered.”
The consul said also that, “an essential component in the success of this link will be the possibility of linking freight transport to passenger transport,” and that, “the rapid duration of the trip should also be a key factor for its success.”
Last summer, the Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino, claimed there already are ‘advanced contacts’ to reactivate a maritime connection between the Algarve and Morocco.
José Luís Cacho, president of the Ports Administration of Sines and Algarve, would be quite happy to see a connection, which he sees as, “contributing to the sustainability of tourism growth in the Algarve.”
Currently, to get to Morocco without flying, there are two options; the Algeciras – Ceuta ferry or the Tarifa – Tangier ferry.
According to a guesstimate in Jornal do Algarve, the journey time between the Algarve and Morocco would be about five hours by ferry. The route between Tarifa and Tangier takes about 35 minutes but you have to get to Tangier first.
In May 2014, a delegation from Faro Council made its way to Tangier and had “fruitful meetings” with their counterparts and members of the Moroccan business community. Both sides agreed that a ferry link makes sense.
The element that is always missing from this well-meaning discussion is, who will set up and run the ferry service? No operator has applied to run the route and neither of the two governments has offered State support.
Hence, the Moroccan honourary Consul in Albuferia will wheel this topic out from time to time in the knowledge that he is doing his job and that nothing will ever happen unless the governments agree to pay a subsidy.