We have students helping us with our land and therefore I quite often visit the airport to pick them up. I have not picked any up for a while and certainly not since the roof came off the airport.
The first thing that struck me on entering the airport road was confusion and this was on a very quiet Sunday afternoon.
I went inside and asked where “arrivals” is now. I was told it is at the other end of the airport in a tent on what used to be a car park. As I walked towards the tent it is evident that not much seems to have been done to restore the roof of the airport. The roof is still in bits.
There is a fence around what used to be arrivals, but quite frankly it looks a mess and is doing Portugal and the Algarve no favours in terms of what visitors first encounter when they arrive in Faro. It gets worse.
The arrivals area – the tent – is indeed a tent with a few kiosk machines inside, six chairs and some empty desks for tour operators. There were no security people, or indeed anyone “official” inside the tent. There are screens advising arrivals but no information stand.
It looked like no thought had been given to what visitors would see when they first arrived. Just dumped together in a corner are a pile of boards used by tour operators. There are a couple of benches outside to sit on if sitting in the tent does not appeal.
People arriving actually come out of a port-a-cabin on the other side of the road and are immediately faced with a road crossing.
It is on this road crossing where many of the new arrivals meet their friends, who have been waiting in the tent. People on the one side of the road, who have been waiting, walk/sometimes run towards the newly arrived relatives, children and friends. They seem to converge together in the middle of the road crossing.
The problem with this is that cars, buses and taxis come around the corner and hit the crossing quite quickly just at the point when people are converging or just crossing the road. The last thing on their mind is traffic.
The only thing they are concentrating on is looking to see if they have been met or where to go next. I saw two near misses of cars that came too fast around the corner and nearly hit people coming out of the arrival port-a-cabin.
As the flight was over 30 minutes late I had some time to reflect and having met the young people coming to help us, I was not overly impressed with having to pay €1.70 for visiting a car park.
I took some photos because I really could not believe what I was seeing. Much of why Portugal survives is because of tourism and the image it sells to visitors. Not only is the image poor, but people’s security is also at risk.
How long will it take to start to get this right?
SUE HALL, Tavira