By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
Hotel occupancy levels in the Algarve averaged just 25 per cent during December, according to AHETA, the Algarve association for hotels and tourism.
Tourism experts across the region report that 2008 was a poor year for their industry and are predicting that 2009 will be even worse.
December is not traditionally a strong month for tourism in the Algarve but average occupancy levels in 2007 were at almost 40 per cent, showing how bad things really were last month, says AHETA.
Compounding the bleak outlook, a tourism barometer compiled by the Algarve tourism board has shown that 63 per cent of tourism industry experts felt that 2008 was a bad year for tourism with 62 per cent predicting that 2009 will be poorer.
The Algarve tourism board surveyed members of business and associations directly affected by tourism, including representatives from the Tivoli Hotel group, Oceânico Golfe, Zoomarine, the Pestana group as well as MEP Mendes Bota and António Pina of the Algarve tourism association.
A telling sign of the hard times to come was the fact that not one of those surveyed considered either 2008 or expected 2009 to be a very good year and almost 15 per cent felt that 2009 would be much worse than 2008.
The British market is still a huge factor within tourism in the Algarve and British tourists accounted for more than 40 per cent of the total visitor numbers during December.
The future of the British tourist in the region in 2009, however, is on shaky ground as the tourism barometer indicated, with 75 per cent of those interviewed feeling that the number of visitors from the UK would drop during 2009.
Despite bleak short-term predictions, there is hope for the continued success of tourism in the Algarve.
The tourism barometer showed that new campaigns to target Spanish tourists, especially in the Alicante region, and the prospect of the 2018 FIFA World Cup being jointly hosted by Portugal and Spain were both popular within the tourism sector as possible ways of increasing visitor numbers in the future.
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