Miguel Oliveira was welcomed to great fanfare in Portimão
Around 65,000 spectators are expected to be in the stands for the MotoGP Grand Prix of Portugal which will take place at the Algarve International Circuit (AIA) in Portimão this weekend (March 24-26).
Speaking to Lusa news agency, the Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes stressed that the figure is “very significant,” especially when considering that spectators will also bring their families with them to spend the weekend in the region.
“The expectations are really of a very high demand, because we are aiming for more than 65,000 spectators, which is very, very significant, since most of the spectators come from other regions of Portugal or abroad,” the president of the regional tourism board (RTA) said.
“We’re talking about 65,000 people, but then there are also a lot of people who, even if they’re not going to the race, come (to the Algarve) and take the opportunity to spend the weekend,” he said.
Demand for the region is therefore “greater than the number of spectators” of the race, he added.
MotoGP teams have also been carrying out tests at the racetrack in Portimão for the last three weeks, which also has a significant impact on the tourism sector, Fernandes pointed out.
The impact of the event is felt mostly in the western Algarve, but extends all the way to Vilamoura, the famous resort located in the central Algarve municipality of Loulé.
According to João Fernandes, there are two additional reasons for motorsports fans to be excited about the race: to see Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira with a bike from a new manufacturer (Aprilia, instead of KTM); and to watch the opening Grand Prix of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship, which allows “eager” fans to witness the race after a months-long hiatus in competition.
“We also know that MotoGP has a huge impact not only in the moment it takes place, but also because of the ability it has to promote destinations. And, on top of that, the track – dubbed by fans as a ‘roller coaster’ – gives the Grand Prix in Portimão a special interest,” he concluded.
Speaking to Lusa, the president of the Association of Hotels and Tourism Developments of the Algarve (AHETA) considered that the race will lead to “excellent” booking numbers at hotels in the area of Lagos and Portimão.
“It is this kind of event that we have to have in the low season, to guarantee an increase in occupation”, said Hélder Martins.
Meanwhile, Miguel Oliveira was welcomed to Portimão during a special event held on Wednesday at the MotoGP Fan Zone near the Clube Naval de Portimão, which will be open on Friday and Saturday between 7pm and 2am with a long list of entertainment.
Portimão mayor Isilda Gomes and AIA boss Paulo Pinheiro attended the event, wishing the 28-year-old rider luck and expressing their desire for Oliveira to repeat his amazing win at the Grand Prix of Portugal held in Portimão in 2020 (at the time with no fans in the stands due to Covid restrictions).
Oliveira has remained level-headed, however, as he knows that racing on a new bike will pose a challenge.
“Many people asked me if I can repeat 2020 here in Portimão and I have to admit that this is a bit too optimistic. It would be fantastic, but very difficult to do something magical,” he said.
“Nevertheless, I don’t rule out that opportunity and I’m happy to be riding at home. Of course, we have some work to do, because so far, we are not the strongest. Anyway, anything can happen. I want to go into the weekend, discover the bike better and better and prepare the race well. This is my target. We will see what happens. If we are in a position, where we can challenge, we will challenge. But if we are not, I will not take it very heavily on myself and just try to do the best I can and give the team a good result on a hopefully good weekend.”