In recent months there have been some complaints in local papers as to camper van parking on car parks and free camping, not paying anything to the local communities, etc. We live in Loulé and just this week we have seen a very encouraging initiative.
Doing the weekly shopping, I saw this sign … it’s about 3×2 metres raised up by about 4m off the ground; very prominent so not to be missed, fully printed in colour, showing a camper van and family in a sunny picturesque setting, with the sign saying in large bold letters, “Camper vans welcome” in four languages – Portuguese, English, Spanish and German.
Where is it? Lidl’s car park!
Ok, so there are no facilities other than Lidl’s own in-shop bathroom during shop opening hours but at least it is FREE and you are invited to use it with no barriers to parking at all and plenty of room to do so. And you can do the shopping at the same time with no time constraints.
Lidl, I think, made a very clever move. If the same sign had gone up at every Lidl shop in the Algarve, just think of the effect on the shops’ trade and turnover just for the sake of a sign in a car park. What it is saying is, “If other folk don’t want your trade, come to Lidl – we do!”
And if it is adopted in every Lidl shop in Portugal, what a coup for the Lidl management!
As to facilities, it really would not be a big deal to use the shops’ existing water supply to provide an external tap and one of the sewer manholes or construct a simple cassette drop in a corner of the car park attached to the shop’s existing underground system.
Seriously – on the main road nearby there’s a road sign saying “camper van facilities 40km” – and it’s the only such sign I know of! Who wants to travel 40km for water services etc?
But there is a Lidl in most towns of any size like Loulé with signpost directions to the shop across the town.
Portugal is looking to increase its national GDP income and should welcome this initiative from a prominent shopping chain attracting more tourists to the towns and long term winter snow birds, as they are called in the USA where it is big business. Well done Lidl!
Retired campers in Loulé