An airbridge for Portugal is a safe option for tourists

Following the initial UK airbridge announcement, it’s fair to say tourism in the Algarve was left reeling from the decision. Discussion followed about ‘saving the summer’ when the next air corridors would be announced. Then, on July 24, we discovered Portugal was to remain off the UK ‘safe list’.

The wrong decision
Working in the villa rental industry means I have witnessed, first-hand, how shocking this decision was. The shock was not exclusive to Algarve residents and businesses; many people in the UK share our sentiments as, of course, quarantine poses an inconvenience to their plans.

This doesn’t do justice to the work of the Portuguese government to contain the pandemic early.

Businesses have demonstrated community spirit, coming together to get back up and running.

Events like the Portugal Masters being rescheduled for September show there are plenty of positive developments in the Algarve. With 95% of our UK guests keeping their bookings, and travel insurance providers offering Covid-19 coverage regardless of FCO advice, we can keep this positivity going.

Saving the Algarve summer
Despite this decision, the tourism industry must act fast to save the summer of 2020. It is fundamental to recognise that there is much to offer tourists from across Europe, not just from the UK. The Algarve, in particular, is opening its arms to European tourists, with more flights available than before. At the end of June, we saw a rise in the ‘safecation’, with a huge increase in villa rentals from nationals wanting to secure a getaway closer to home.

These markets need to be tapped into immediately. From highlighting the perfect property for a ‘safecation’ to casting the marketing net wider than before, we can attract tourists and make 2020 a summer we will always remember.

Adapt and innovate
While the relationship between the Algarve and British tourists has always been good, it’s time to shift some focus to these new markets. We have seen fantastic benefits from hiring multi-lingual staff who can help identify trends across Europe and get the message out that the Algarve is safe for all.

Though the Algarve is open, it is still experiencing a quiet summer, which isn’t surprising with the ongoing discussion about air corridors. But this shouldn’t dishearten us, and, in fact, it should be used as an advantage in attracting tourists to the Algarve in August and September.

The beaches of the Algarve are ready and waiting, offering a quieter environment for those wishing to explore. Dream excursions, like boat trips and hiking trails, will also be more accessible. Helping tourists discover these, while offering extra in-villa services, will allow them to pick what they’re most comfortable doing.

Keeping a positive outlook
The Algarve is keeping up the hard work when it comes to tourist safety. Guests have recognised this, keeping their original travel dates in place to enjoy a well-needed break. If the tourism industry can come together to adapt to this new way of travel, the Algarve summer can recover from the disappointing news.

By Joe Mountain
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Joe Mountain is founder of Algarve villa rental specialists SandyBlue.
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