João Fernandes, president of the Algarve Tourism Board

Algarve tourism boss urges Portugal to “open up to non-essential travel”

On a day that Portugal is hoping for ‘good news’ out of the UK (click here), the Algarve’s tourism boss has urged the government to open up the country to “non-essential travel” in its next review of the State of Calamity.

While most of Portugal is already at ‘stage four’ of its plan to emerge from lockdown, the country is still welcoming a marginal number of tourists as travel is restricted to “essential travel” only – a rule which was reportedly not taken too seriously at the border last weekend (click here).

“It is important that Portugal, during its next review of the State of Calamity, does not limit travel into Portugal only to essential travel. That will be key,” João Fernandes told Dinheiro Vivo website, adding that the region could already be welcoming holidaymakers.

“If a holidaymaker must undergo a PCR test before travelling, and if travellers must be vaccinated or be immune due to prior infection, we have to ‘open up’ because it will help improve the economy, especially tourism but not only,” said Fernandes.

Fernandes also commented on last weekend’s events at the border, describing the influx of Spaniards as an opportunity to help bolster the region’s tourism sector – even if they do not spend the night here, they provide clientele for local businesses, he stressed.

While some bookings for this summer have already been made, the tourism chief is remaining cautious until the UK government reveals whether Portugal will be on its ‘green list’.

“The signs we are seeing from the national market for this summer are positive. When it comes to Spain, we have two more months than we did last year, when borders only reopened on July 1. We already have flights coming in from Ireland. And we are hoping that, starting May 17, we will have flights with tourists from our main market, the UK. There are signs of hope for June, July and August,” he said.

The Algarve has also registered an “interesting” number of bookings for the last months of the year, described as the second high season for golf, but uncertainty about the future is still keeping tourism authorities skeptical.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com