Algarve
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Excellent Easter ahead, say hoteliers

Algarve hotels hope Easter will turn page on pandemic as bookings match record-breaking 2019

 An “impressive” number of bookings for the Easter holiday season has the Algarve tourism sector hoping it will finally turn the page on two years of pandemic hardship, and even despite the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Speaking to the Resident, the president of the Algarve Hoteliers Association (AHETA) said the number of bookings is “very similar to 2019” – the year when tourism records were broken in Portugal.

“We are expecting between 62% and 65% of hotel rooms to be occupied, similar to 2019 (for this time of year), which is very good considering 2019 was an excellent year for tourism,” AHETA president Hélder Martins told us.

What is most impressive is that the region’s hotels have been able to attract this “high level of interest without lowering prices”, Martins added.

The Resident has also received first-hand information from hoteliers confirming that prices being achieved for bookings this Easter and for the summer at many five-star hotels are, in fact, “considerably higher than in 2019”.

Portuguese holidaymakers continue to account for the largest number of bookings, with the UK and Spain trailing as the second and third main markets this Easter.

Five-star hotels are recording the highest percentage of bookings in the Algarve, with some reporting over 90% of their rooms booked.

Not even rising international concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the inflation that has followed – has tampered positive expectations.

“So far, we are not feeling the effects of the war or of price increases. In fact, airlines at Faro Airport are registering similar numbers to 2019 and flight seat occupancy has been increasing throughout the last few weeks,” said Martins.

 

The good news continues as the Algarve has apparently been unaffected by the flight cancellations announced by easyJet and British Airways over last weekend and on Monday, many of which were due to staff shortages related to Covid-19.

“We do not have reports of any (flight) cancellations affecting the Algarve,” Martins confirmed.

The few cancellations that the Algarve hotel sector has registered have been merely cases in which tourists decide to change the tour operator they have booked their holiday with, or instead decide to make their reservation directly with their hotel instead of using an online booking service, the AHETA boss explained.

The hotelier boss believes these positive signs are an indicator that tourists are feeling more confident about travel once again, after two years of restrictions and near-constant disruption.

Algarve
Photo: LAURA BALVERS/SHUTTERSTOCK

“Some countries have already done away with mask-wearing. This is not the case in Portugal, at least until Easter we believe, but people remain confident about the Algarve,” said Martins, adding that the region continues to attract returning tourists – in other words, “people who have travelled here at least once normally become so enamoured with the region that they want to return”.

Nationwide optimism

The Algarve is not the only region of Portugal looking at Easter with optimism.

In the Alentejo, the number of bookings is “very high” and there are several hotels and accommodation units which are “completely booked”, regional tourism boss Vítor Silva told Lusa news agency at the end of March. Several hotels are also completely booked for Easter in the Madeira archipelago.

“An incomparably better Easter than last year’s” is also expected in the Porto and North region, said the region’s tourism chief Luís Pedro Martins, while the Azores archipelago is also expecting a busy holiday season thanks to the lifting of restrictions which has allowed several events and religious festivities to return in 2022, according to Fernando Neves, the Azores delegate of the Portugal Hotel Association (AHP).

Algarve targets meetings industry

The Algarve is trying to tap into the potential of the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) niche of the tourism sector, which is dubbed as “strategic to the consolidation of the Algarve as a destination” that offers something different from its competitors.

So says the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA) which is participating in Loop Leisure Spring 2022, described as the main luxury travel show aimed at German-speaking markets (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) which is taking place in Cascais this week alongside Loop MICE Spring, promoted as the “best MICE event in luxury tourism”.

ATA is expecting more than 80 business meetings and networking opportunities at both events where it will have a chance to sing the region’s praises as a MICE destination.

In fact, the association has already invited some of the operators attending the events to embark on a series of ‘fam trips’ (familiarisation trip) to get to know the Algarve.

“Whether we are talking about leisure holidays or work trips, our goal is to attract and bring together travellers in the Algarve who appreciate a different kind of tourism, based on authentic and surprising experiences,” said ATA president João Fernandes.

“We believe this a key pillar for the development of a more sustainable (type of) tourism. As such, these events act as privileged showcases to promote the Algarve as a highlight in the luxury travel segment,” he added.

The launch of a new Loop Spring event aimed only at the meeting industry was also praised by ATA, which sees it as an “opportunity to revitalise and stimulate the quick recovery of this segment.

“We have been strengthening the region’s promotion as an attractive destination to host business events and work trips among many different niches identified as relevant. Thus, given its huge potential, the luxury event market cannot clearly be left out of our strategy,” said Fernandes.

“The Algarve has every condition to inspire and surprise the most demanding professionals who seek the best locations to plan their event.”

By MICHAEL BRUXO
michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com