Algarve campsites expect downturn this summer

By SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]

Algarve campsites are predicted to experience a fall in occupation this summer, which could result in staff cuts at some parks.

According to Beatriz Santos, an administrator of Orbitur, owning camping sites in Sagres, Lagos, Quarteira and Armona Island, to attract customers they will be implementing discount schemes throughout the summer season.

Speaking to Lusa news agency, she said: “The current climate of instability and uncertainty is delaying decisions by holidaymakers to pre-book into camping locations, which is why the enhancement of last minute deals is important to bring in as many customers as possible.”

She believes negative issues such as unemployment rates, salary cuts, high fuel prices and road tolls are all influencing visitors’ choices, even if it is for a low budget camping break in Portugal.

When reflecting on 2011, Orbitur’s records are currently registering a 5% drop in bookings for the month of July and an 8% decrease for August.

Parque de Campismo de Olhão’s Margarida Silva firmly placed responsibility on the current economic situation and unemployment rates for the dip in campsite visitors.  

Margarida says that the park is expecting similar drops in guests due to the fact that the majority of past custom has been from Portugal and Spain – both countries which are suffering from the downturn.

Many citizens of Spain and Portugal are now subject to reduction in holiday allowances, which will ultimately have an influence on the number of holiday days they choose to take away from home.

She said: “With the current economic climate in Portugal and Spain, expectations for the summer are somewhat uncertain.

“With space to accommate 2,000 people in the campsite, when we look back at the losses registered in 2011, the prospects for the upcoming season are not encouraging,” she concluded.

In addition, the director of the Parque de Campismo da Ilha de Tavira, Isabel Batista, confirmed that although it is early days to make estimates, they are expecting a “moderate” reduction in visitors to the park.

“The days of having the park completely full are now over. However, despite the downward trend in occupancy that we have noted, I will remain positive for what is to come,” said Isabel.

Although the summer forecast for the Tavira Island camping park remains undetermined, the director added that occupancy will be monitored as and when it happens; the park provides spaces for 1,550 tents.

The park can only take a total of 80 reservations due to the number of ready-to-use rental tents that they have available for those not wishing to carry their own tent and equipment.

Despite the grim outlook, campsite owners and directors all share a common thought – that even though holidaymakers are not in the same financial position as in past years, they will opt for a stay at a campsite, instead of a “luxurious, costly hotel”.

Turn to page 46 to read about ‘glamping’, an alternative to the usual camping holiday.