Algarve seeks winter tourists

A major plan to combat seasonality in the Algarve and increase the number of visitors to the region in the winter was announced last week by the national tourism board Turismo de Portugal in Albufeira.

Faro Airport is expected to receive an extra 20,000 tourists this winter as a result of new contracts signed by Turismo de Portugal in a bid to combat seasonality and make the Algarve an all-year-round destination.

The main objective is to increase the number of flights coming into Faro and ensure a further 100,000 overnight stays in the Algarve during the off-season.

Between November this year and March 2014, the strategy for Algarve tourism aims to recover 25% of the overnight stays that have been lost over the past six years. Between 2006 and 2012, in winter, the Algarve lost 460,000 overnight stays and recorded 60,000 fewer passengers.

New flights for Faro will originate from four markets that are considered a priority and that Turismo de Portugal believes will have a greater potential to generate more tourists in the short-term – they are Germany, Scandinavia, Ireland and Poland.

The agreements will open up new flights for TUI, Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Norwegian, Itaka, and Rainbow Tour airlines.

The sum of €400,000 has been invested by the government towards the increase of air flight routes to Faro Airport.

Adolfo Mesquita Nunes, the Secretary of State for Tourism, said: “By channeling our resources to areas that are considered priority, such as marketing the destination, this initiative by Turismo de Portugal will reinforce the sustainability of Algarve tourism outside the peak season.”

According to the Secretary of State for Tourism, it is more important to ensure that the Algarve will be receiving winter tourists by collaborating and working with the airline companies and tour operators than trying to attract visitors by organizing events such as parties or concerts.

The Secretary of State for Tourism is confident that the investment in marketing, as opposed to a possible investment in the creation and promotion of events, will be a more effective policy for the region and is sure that the private sector will be able to attract the tourists.

Luís Matoso from Turismo de Portugal added that this is the first time that a plan “of these dimensions” is being “put into practice” by the entity.

The Algarve is the main tourism region of Portugal, with 14.3 million annual overnight stays, 10.8 million of which are booked by foreign tourists. In 2012, 47% of the overnight stay took place in the summer season.

More foreign tourists visit Algarve

Foreign tourists visiting the Algarve during the first three months of this year increased by 14.5% compared to the same period in 2012.

Arriving at Faro airport, they were predominantly German (+30%), Dutch (+8.7%), Irish (+2.2%) and British (+2.2%).

Faro Airport registered a total of 286,481 passengers arriving during the same three months, representing an increase of 2%.

The overall number of guests booking into hotel units and similar holiday accommodation numbered 392,758 and represented an increase of 7.4%, according to information supplied by the Algarve Tourism Board in the report titled ‘Algarve Conjuntura Turística’.

There was a fall, however, of 6.5% in the number of Portuguese coming to the region although the national market continues to be the principal one, representing 30% of the total number of hotel guests. Other markets showing a significant increase as far as hotel bookings are concerned were the Dutch (+36.5%) and the Spanish (22.3%).

Online service to attract more tourists to the Algarve

A new website named ‘algarvebooking’, created to fight against the turndown in tourist influx in the Algarve, has been presented by the Algarve hotel and resorts association, AHETA, to its associates.

In a press statement to the Algarve Resident, AHETA clarified they do not want the online platform to compete with the existing businesses, but instead work as a complement to those in the marketing of the Algarve hotels and touristic resorts.

The association believes that new technologies, namely the Internet and social networks, have become increasingly important tools in the booking of vacations and other touristic products, especially in the Algarve.

“With the creation of this project, which is totally innovative and unmatched by any other of our rival tourist destinations, the Algarve has opened the door to the marketing of its hotels and tourist resorts, both in the internal and the main external markets,” said AHETA.

The association added that ‘algarvebooking’ also offers information about the region to its visitors, showing a “qualitative difference” when compared to other existing online platforms, making it hard to match.

In order to ensure that the project functions at a high level, AHETA partnered up with some specialized entities in these areas and have a technical and commercial team at their service.