Hotels in the Algarve are having to deal with last-minute booking cancellations for New Year’s Eve due to the worsening pandemic situation and “new, harsher restrictions” to fight the spread of the virus.
Elidérico Viegas, president of the Algarve hoteliers’ association (AHETA), told Lusa news agency: “Hotels started receiving cancellations after the latest restrictions were announced. Although we were feeling optimistic about end-of-year bookings, this is certainly no longer the case.”
According to Viegas, the new restrictions and rising case numbers have led to “many cancellations”, particularly from the Portuguese who usually travel to the Algarve at this time of year for New Year’s celebrations, and generally lower demand.
“All we can hope for now is any last-minute bookings this week, if case numbers stabilise,” he said.
With the spread of the Omicron variant in the country, the government set out new, stricter measures, which began at 00:00 on December 25 and will run until January 9, in a bid to control the spread of infections.
Among the ‘festive measures’ is the mandatory presentation of a negative Covid test (whether the person is vaccinated or not) in hotels and tourist lodgings, restaurants, casinos and New Year’s Eve parties on December 30, 31 and January 1 (click here).
“These restrictions seriously affect the hospitality sector. Considering hotels already comply with all sanitation guidelines, these measures are excessive,” said the AHETA president.
“Predictions were very positive and in line with what was already experienced in the summer, with demand increasing, particularly from the Portuguese market. But this has all changed. We are, nevertheless, still hoping for a better end-of-year than in 2020, but way behind on 2019,” he said.
Elidérico Viegas has confirmed that more than 40% of hotels in the Algarve are currently closed, which “is normal in the so-called low tourist season”.
Local councils have also cancelled New Year’s Eve celebrations as “events would bring together large crowds of people” (click here).