By: NATASHA SMITH
Many hotels in the Algarve were expected to be at maximum capacity over the New Year period, capping a successful 2006 for tourism in the Algarve.
According to the Associação dos Hotéis e Empreendimentos Turisticos do Algarve (AHETA), the region’s hotels and resorts association, tourists from all over Portugal and Europe were expected to descend on the Algarve in their tens of thousands to celebrate the New Year in various locations across the Algarve.
A combination of hotels offering special New Year deals, câmaras organising musical entertainment and the Euromillions Lisbon-Dakar race stopping in Portimão were reasons given for this influx of tourists.
Hotels, which offered an evening of entertainment on December 31, experienced a large number of reservations and, in particular, hotels in Portimão and Albufeira reaped the benefits of the fireworks displays and musical entertainment organised within their respective areas.
Before the end of the year, Hélder Martins, president of the Região de Turismo do Algarve (RTA), the tourism board said that he believed 2006 was a positive year for the Algarve, but added that in 2007, he would focus on developing a strategy to improve oceanic tourism as passenger numbers on cruises were lower than the year before. He intends to develop Portimão harbour in an effort to entice cruise liners to use it as a stopover and a departure point.
His expectations for hotel occupancies and passengers arriving in Faro airport in 2006 were surpassed and he was glad that the year “ended on a good note”. Hotel occupancies rose between five and six per cent from 2005, generating more than 500 million euros. Bed occupancies in other rented accommodation rose a modest two per cent from 2005.
Faro airport celebrated that, for the first time, more than five million passengers passed through their doors, which is believed to be the result of more low-cost airlines choosing the Algarve as a preferred destination.
Martins said that the Algarve had a responsibility to continue to develop and improve the quality of tourism. He added that by utilising the internet to greater effect, sporting and musical events could be better publicised on an international level and this would intrinsically improve tourism for the Algarve.
More than a million rounds of golf were played in the Algarve, marking a rise of six per cent over the previous year. The Resident spoke to newly elected president of Associação de turismo do Algarve, the regional tourism association, Daniel Queirós, who said that he was “very proud of the development of tourism in the Algarve. I hope to help use this great commodity to improve tourism as a whole this year.”
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