By INÊS LOPES [email protected]
Algarve’s overall occupancy level during June was 71.5%, up 6.1% in comparison to the same month in 2011, according to data accumulated by AHETA, the region’s hotels and tourist resorts association.
The most significant increases were from the German and British markets, with 25.1% and 19.6% respectively.
In May, as reported in the Algarve Resident (edition May 11), AHETA president Elidérico Viegas raised concerns about the dramatic decrease in German tourists in the region in the last decade.
He said: “Holidaymakers from Germany are down by 48.9%. However, if we go back 15 years, the situation is even more dramatic, with the German market down by a staggering 70%.”
At the time, the tourism leader said he feared the trend would continue as since January this year the number of German visitors to the Algarve had been down 11.5%.
However, it appears the trend has been broken, with more focused marketing of the Algarve as a tourism destination likely to be responsible for the increase.
The Greek financial crisis is also being pointed as a reason for the German market opting for alternative holiday spots.
The Germans represent the largest tourism market in Europe, with 59 million Germans holidaying abroad each year for periods longer than four days.
Elidérico Viegas says he feels optimistic about tourist figures for this summer, with the first few days of July following June’s positive trend.
“Hotels are close to capacity and this is partly the result of the all-inclusive holiday packages they are promoting,” he said.
Tourism chief António Pina is confident the Algarve brand continues to be “very strong”, with its beaches, landscapes, tourist accommodation and gastronomy accountable for the region’s success.
“We wonder what the results would be like if we didn’t have the tolls and high VAT rates,” he said.
Tourist market decreases were, however, recorded in the domestic (-3.5%), Spanish (-7.9%) and Dutch (-4.5%) markets.
Geographically, the Portimão-Praia da Rocha area continued to register a decrease in occupation levels on the same month last year, down 2.1%.
Significant occupancy rises were however noted in Tavira (+21.6%), Carvoeiro-Armação de Pêra (+14.4%) and Lagos-Sagres (+7.8%%). Albufeira, Algarve’s favoured tourist destination, recorded a 1.6% increase in June on the same month last year.
The area registering the highest occupancy rate was Vilamoura-Quarteira-Quinta do Lago with 74.2%, while Carvoeiro-Armação de Pêra saw the lowest rate with 68.5%.
Two and three star accommodation recorded the highest decrease in guests, -18.2%, while four star hotel units and aparthotels registered the highest increase in occupancy, up 8.8%. Overall occupancy rates were lower in two star hotel and aparthotel units (55.3%) while four star units recorded a 77.4% occupancy.
Total business volume was up 6.1% on last year.
Meanwhile, the Algarve Tourism Board and câmaras have been working hard to promote the various attractions of the region as well as cultural and sporting events taking place this summer.
More often than not nowadays, information available to visitors of the Algarve is both in Portuguese and English to ensure the offer is accessible to all. This is a sign that local municipal entities are responding to the needs of adopting a more welcoming approach to tourism.
But improvements are still needed, particularly at attractions under the remit of the culture sector such as national monuments, where multilingual information and tourist friendly practises are still lacking (read story on page 3).