I would like to thank your correspondent, Pete, a restaurant owner in the “Strip” for the last 20 years, for his well-reasoned letter and proposals to try and deal with the issue of uncontrolled drinking in the area.
There is little doubt that excessive alcohol is the cause of many problems in the area, particularly noise, anti-social behaviour and crime, which affects both residents and businesses such as restaurants.
Safe Communities Portugal has recently met with the Algarve Tourism Board and the GNR, and it is clear that much more needs to be done to deal with the current problems.
Despite recent appeals by the Albufeira Mayor urging Parliament to legislate on “the behaviour of groups”, and by the president of the Algarve Hoteliers Association (AHETA), asking for more supervision to nightlife establishments, as well as ongoing complaints from local residents, the problems remain unresolved.
These problems are not new but, for whatever reasons, have continued for many years with no effective measures being taken. Deploying extra police to the area does not deal with the root cause – the unregulated overnight availability of cheap alcohol.
I have also visited the Strip at 3.30am with the GNR, where young girls probably no more than 15-16 years of age were clearly drunk, people vomiting and broken bottles in the street, and of course associated disorder.
Youngsters become detached from their friends, are found wandering alone and taken back to police stations.
All this places additional work on the GNR, the Bombeiros and local hospitals, diverting their limited resources from far more important matters. The “Portugal Invasion” in June this year added a new dimension to this and a signal matters could get worse, where such groups are attracted to cheap all-night drinking.
The continuation of the current situation is not, I believe, conducive to the government’s “365 Algarve” programme, which is aimed at the cultural development of the Algarve, attracting all-year tourism.
However, it is important not to tarnish the whole of Albufeira with the same brush. There is the old town which attracts many families and the Strip that attracts youngsters for drinking and partying.
If Albufeira is to continue to be a destination of choice for both groups of holidaymakers, there is a need for a new vision concerning the future of the Strip that avoids the type of problems that it has become associated with.
I will be passing on Pete’s suggestions to the authorities concerned so they can be considered.
President, Safe Communities Portugal