Home News We have the Algarve almost just to ourselves for now, but is that enough?

We have the Algarve almost just to ourselves for now, but is that enough?

Published on 25/06/2020

We are in the second half of June and we ask: what sort of Algarve is this? “It is a typical Algarve, as it is usually in March”, comments Ana Isa Figueiredo, assistant director of São Rafael Villas, Apartments and Guest House, a tourist resort close to the beach of the same name, in Sesmarias, a few kilometres from Albufeira.

With the exception of the week of the 10th and 11th of June, public holidays used by many for the first post-lockdown mini-vacation, the Algarve has been almost empty of tourists, laments Ana. “The other day, at night, I went to Oura for an ice cream and I couldn’t believe what I saw, everything was empty”, she adds.

Were it not for the impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we would be grateful for this Algarve almost exclusively to ourselves – but, in this phase of economic struggle for the survival of many tourism-related businesses, we must push for an Algarve that everyone to return soon. Always, of course, with due care to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This is especially so because at this time it is not at all difficult to maintain the required social distance. Whoever arrives at Praia dos Salgados, for example, has a clear sandy beach and an excess of places to choose to settle in to enjoy the sun and the sea. Wherever you go, the scenery is almost always the same: small groups, of two or three people, walking by the sea; few people in the water, which is cold this June; and a very sparsely populated beach.

The beach concessionaires wait eagerly for anyone who wants to pay for a lounge chair, but they tend to be empty most of the day. The same reality is shared for beach salesmen, typically walking along the shores selling ‘bolas de berlim’ or other sweet treats. One anonymous salesman said: “This is bad, few people on the beach. Honestly, I don’t know what this summer is going to be like. If people are afraid to come to the Algarve. I don’t know what this is going to be like…”

Waiting for better days, this is how the Algarve has been this year so far. It is possible that the opening of the borders with Spain, scheduled for 1 July, will help to balance the accounts. And that the resumption of commercial passenger flights, which has intensified in recent days, also may contribute. Several airlines have already resumed their connections and others are preparing to fly back to the Algarve from the beginning of July. “The gradual resumption of air connections to the Algarve is a positive sign for tourism in the region, for the economic and social fabric and, above all, it is proof that there is an important perception that we are, in the eyes of the other countries, a safe destination”, stresses João Fernandes, president of Turismo do Algarve, in a statement released this week.

In the eyes of international tourists, those who have been considering visiting the region most recently may have been put off by a recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Lagos, after an illegal party in Odiáxere, which resulted in 111 cases of infection. How this stain on the Algarve’s relatively unbesmirched record has and will affect the influx of tourists is uncertain for now.