Novo Banco

Novo Banco boss predicts Algarve “can be among first regions to recover” from crisis

António Ramalho – president of Portugal’s Novo Banco, the so-called ‘good bank’ created in the aftermath of the BES debacle – has predicted that the Algarve “can be one of the first regions to recover” from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So he said during a conference held in Loulé this Thursday morning to discuss the challenges that companies are facing.

Ramalho admitted that the recovery of region’s usually thriving tourism sector “must be a success” so that it can once again act as a catalyst for the Portuguese economy, like it has in recent years.

“The Algarve has an absolutely remarkable tourism capacity with about 40% of its workers employed in the tourism sector and 50% of its wealth produced by it,” he said.

But in order to help the region bounce back, Ramalho said the government must adapt its measures to meet the demands of each sector as the crisis has “different effects” on each one.

He believes that the country’s banking sector “responded adequately in the first phase” of the pandemic through its moratoriums on bank loan payments.

Now the time has come to “listen,” prepare “short-term solutions” and figure out what are the major changes that resulted from the crisis, Ramalho said.

The 60-year-old CEO, who between 2015 and 2016 acted as executive president of national infrastructure authority Infraestruturas de Portugal, also said banks have to adjust to the times by offering more digital solutions and sustainable financing.

“Banks have much more capital than during the last crisis, but above all, much more experience handling crises,” he said.

Elidérico Viegas, president of the Algarve hotelier association (AHETA) also attended the conference and agreed that the Algarve is “well-positioned” to be among the first to emerge from the crisis, although he expects the recovery to last “four to five years”.

The fact that the region is just “three to four hours away” from some of its main markets is a clear advantage. However, Viegas said that the government has to step up as so far it was forgotten about the promised “plan for the recovery of Algarve tourism”.

Last week, the association urged the government to provide grants in order to “save the Algarve tourism sector and avoid an economic and social catastrophe”. (click here)

Meanwhile, hotel industries association (AHISA) has revealed that the start of vaccination programmes has “clearly increased people’s travelling prospects,” which is already noticeable in the “number of bookings”.

President Daniel José do Adro said that European countries must “harmonise” their vaccination plans as well as the confidence that is passed onto European citizens, so that they feel safe in their country and their holiday destination.