Germany’s decision to remove Portugal from its list of safe-travel destinations for at least two weeks has come as a huge blow to the Algarve’s hopes of a “positive summer” for the tourism sector, especially as the region’s tourism boss admits that other countries could soon follow suit.
Speaking to TVI last weekend, Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes said that he was “apprehensive” about the news.
“It is obviously a severe setback, not only because of the impact it will have on the German market, but also because it will certainly have an immediate effect in Switzerland and Austria which usually follow German rules,” he said, adding that similar measures may soon be taken in Belgium and Netherlands as well as the rest of Europe.
With Portugal now on the Covid-19 red list of both the UK and Germany – the region’s “main markets” according to Fernandes – the prospects for this summer are gloomier than ever.
Meanwhile, German holidaymakers have already started to cut their holidays in the Algarve short in order to return home before having to quarantine.
Stefan Weber was supposed to return this Friday but was forced to change his plans and fly back earlier last Saturday. “We cut our holiday by half,” he told SIC.
Hotels are also starting to feel the effects of the German government’s decision.
Elidérico Viegas, president of the Algarve hoteliers’ association AHETA, said cancellations are already being registered “not only at hotels which work exclusively with German holidaymakers, but all across the region, especially in the Western Algarve which is the area most popular among Germans, such as Carvoeiro, Armação de Pêra, Lagos and Sagres.”
Portugal’s travel agencies and tourism association (APAVT) has described the travel ban as a “fatal blow” to the expectations of a tourism recovery this summer, calling on the government to create “new support measures to avoid the bankruptcy of a whole sector”.
It added: “Portugal is currently, in practice, unable to welcome tourists from many markets, including the two largest in terms of overnight stays, and the first and third most important in terms of revenue.”
By MICHAEL BRUXO