Observations on free camping

Dear Editor,
In Silves, over the last few winters, large, white, campervans have wafted in like the migrating storks. They settle in the riverfront car park of Silves, fleeing from the inclement winters of Northern Europe.
They are warmly welcomed by the Câmara and local traders alike. No stag parties, no lager louts, no ladettes, no litter, no fights. Just a multinational group of mature and retired European taxpayers enjoying the freedom of single-currency travel from their chilly homelands to overwinter among friends in the warmer climes of the Algarve.
For several months they inflate the local economy spending their modest, taxed savings and pensions within their adopted Algarvean community. They make new friends, welcome old ones from previous years, wine and dine together at their favourite restaurants and treat the local townspeople with friendly respect.
In general, the campers are retired, having worked all their lives in their own countries, paying taxes and contributing to health and other securities. Few are wealthy enough to have foreign homes yet through the availability of the campervan can enjoy travel and sojourns in foreign climes.
Apparently, however, getting pleasure in their later years, helping to sustain the community during the off-season are the acts of “freeloading” parasites – much to be despised. It is always rather sad when ignorance of other people’s lifestyles should lead to such aggressive disdain.
Fortunately the ranks of the uninformed are thankfully very small. Perhaps they could be converted by spending an evening drinking a few glasses of locally purchased wine by the banks of the river chatting about the joys of camping under the protection and support of the Portuguese community.
My husband and I are local bar owners and keen campers. I hope we can see both sides of this discussion. Our bar certainly benefits from the custom of the campers and in our role as musicians we have been down to the camping area and entertained them with our music – it let us get to know them and to advertise the welcome they would receive at our music bar and restaurant.
Live and let live.
Jackie O’Grady
By email