Algarve hotels “optimistic” about New Year’s Eve

Hotels in the Algarve are keeping their hopes up for this festive season and are confident that the region will remain a popular destination for Portuguese holidaymakers looking to enjoy New Year’s Eve away from home – despite the fact that local councils have started cancelling some if not all of their New Year’s Eve festivities (click here).

“Christmas is not usually a time of great demand, because it is a family celebration and people normally stay home,” Elidérico Viegas, president of the Algarve tourism association (ATA), told Lusa news agency.

As he explained, while more and more people have been travelling to the Algarve to celebrate Christmas at local hotels, the numbers are still mostly too low to be considered significant.

New Year’s is a different story, as the Algarve is the main tourist destination for Portuguese holidaymakers.

“(New Year’s) is a period that is defined by demand mostly from national (tourists). This will happen again and we believe there may even be an increase in demand from Portuguese, even compared to 2019, as has already happened during the summer months,” said Viegas, adding that the increase could range between 20 and 25%.

However, it is unlikely that the Algarve will see many revellers travelling to the region from abroad due to the new travel restrictions imposed by the government, such as the requirement for arriving passengers in Portugal to present a negative Covid-19 test.

Hopes are that the restrictions may help tackle rising case numbers “quickly so that the next tourism season,” which is expected to mark the start of the sector’s recovery, “is not compromised”.

Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes has also said forecasts are “very optimistic” for the festive season, with an “interesting number of bookings” especially from Portuguese and Spanish tourists.

While he said there is “apprehension” about the evolution of the pandemic and the possibility of stricter measures being implemented, he added that that hasn’t kept people from booking their stays in the Algarve.

These optimistic outlooks have come at around the same time that many local councils around Portugal have started cancelling their New Year’s celebrations.