By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]
Motor homers who camp illegally rather than in designated paid-for campsites are costing the region around eight million euros a year in income.
Manuel Dias, president of the national camping and campsites association (Aecamp), says the problem is due to the lack of inspections by Câmaras and authorities.
He said that although motor homers may stop and park in a car park, that does not give them the right to stay the night there as they are using their transport as accommodation.
According to a study conducted by the CCDR, the regional development commission, between October 2006 and November 2007, the Algarve is losing out on an estimated eight million euros of revenue each year because motor homers do not stay in designated caravan and camping sites.
The study revealed that more than 37,200 caravans enter the region each year, with more than80 per cent of visitors being of foreign nationality.
The majority travel across the Guadiana Bridge, which links Portugal to Spain.
Compared to other foreign tourists, who spend around 100 euros per day and stay an average of 5.9 days in the region, the study found that foreigners who bring caravans spend an average of 42 days in the region but spend much less money.
Desirable locations for caravaners and motor homers include public car parks, beach car parks and beach side areas, areas near public facilities and along wide avenues.
Algarve motor homer Cindy Thompson told the Algarve Resident: “Winter motor homers who frequent the Algarve from November through to April seem to be facing a problem with the lack of designated parking. Even if they all wanted to stay on a campsite, the campsites are unable to accommodate the large numbers of vehicles.”
She adds that motor homers contribute to the local economy, especially during winter months, with a couple spending on average 100 euros per week on basic living, all of which is going into local pockets.
A spokesman from Silves Câmara, which sees many illegally parked motor homes in its area, told the Algarve Resident that although they are aware that people stay in their motor homes in public car parks in the council, they take no action against them.
“There have been verbal complaints, but none in writing and we are not a police force,” said the spokesman.
He added that Silves council has two legal campsites and that it is planning to build a caravan and motor home park in São Marcos da Serra in the future.
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