Portimão is one of the 26 boroughs over the limit for cases per 100,000 inhabitants Photo: INÊS LOPES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP

Government support measures “lack ambition” and do not cater to Algarve’s needs, say hoteliers

The Algarve hotelier association (AHETA) has slammed the government’s latest measures to support the economy, saying they lack “ambition” and will do little to help the region’s struggling companies.

In a statement sent to the press this Thursday, the association says the extension of moratoria until September “does little to fix the problems of tourism companies in the Algarve and leaves them plunged in a sea of uncertainty, with no prospects for the future.”

According to AHETA, which has consistently targeted the government’s support measures since the start of the pandemic (click here), this summer is unlikely to bring much in the way of profits for hotels and resorts to survive another low season and cover the daily costs they continue to face.

The association adds that the expected recovery of the tourism sector from next year’s Easter season will be “very slow” and it could be years before the sector returns to the record-highs it had been setting up to 2019.

AHETA accuses the government of failing to announce any measure that will truly help companies right now.

Thus, hoteliers defend that the fiscal and financial moratoria should be extended until September 2022, as companies will not generate enough cash flow until then to be able to cover for their running expenses, “and much less pay off their debts and respective interest.”

Meanwhile, AHETA says the credit lines that the government has been announcing since the start of the pandemic will have to be paid back with interest and the grants are “insufficient” considering the scope and impact of the crisis in the tourism sector.

Also criticised are the ‘Apoiar’ and ‘Apoiar Rendas’ support programmes which the association says are not adjusted to the needs of the tourism sector.

The government’s simplified lay-off scheme is also targeted and described as “lacking ambition and too bureaucratic”, leaving struggling companies with the responsibility of paying for much of the workers’ wages.

Says AHETA, “the government is approving measures based on ‘supposed recovery of tourism’, forgetting that the economy will only recover in a satisfactory way after the pandemic is over.”

It adds: “The government insists on taking short-term measures, which lack a strategic view of the future and prevent companies from effectively responding to the challenges during the recovery phase.

“Many companies are facing a dramatic scenario and are left with no choice but to close their doors or file for bankruptcy, which will result in even higher unemployment levels,” the association explains.

AHETA further urges the government to “implement the promised Specific Emergency Plan to Recover Algarve Tourism, without which hotel and tourism companies will lack the conditions to overcome the huge difficulties they are facing.”

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com