Longer season

FOR THE first time, the Algarve’s beaches will be officially ‘open’ between April 1 and October 31 – the longest season yet. The new dates were confirmed at a meeting of the various bodies responsible for awarding licences to beach operators.

Campos Correia, president of the CCDR – the Commission of Co-ordination and Regional Development – stressed that “licensees have rights, but also responsibilities”. He revealed that, to date, the CCDR had received 19 applications asking for an extension to the bathing season, and said that three concelhos – Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos – have been granted the right to open for longer. The normal season runs from June 1 to September 30.

The extended season will be tried for one year, to see whether the idea is viable. Correia was keen to point out that the measure has cost implications, commenting that, “we are counting on the collaboration of the three câmaras involved”. He explained that beach operators will have to employ lifeguards, as well as cleaning equipment, to maintain the same standards as in the high season.

Clean beaches guaranteed

In a separate move, the Algarve Tourist Board (RTA) is currently evaluating whether or not to invest in new equipment to clean beaches in the region. Once purchased, the machines will be handed over to the local authorities, who will be responsible for ensuring that beaches remain in pristine condition.

The idea is not new. A public tender for supplying the cleaning equipment was launched in February of last year and 22 proposals were submitted. RTA President Hélder Martins explained that the process had been delayed owing to “technical complexities”, but the problems are now understood to have been resolved. According to Martins, “the decision will be made this month so that equipment can be handed over before the summer”.

The machines will be jointly financed by the Operational Environment Programme from PIQTUR (a programme linked to authorities) and local câmaras. Authorities with beaches in their jurisdictions, including Alcoutim, will have the use of 13 HGV lorries to transport rubbish, 14 vans, 64 tractors and 1,710 rubbish containers.