By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
Significant growth has been registered in passenger numbers at Faro airport this year according to ANA, the management company that runs the airports of Portugal.
Between January and April 2011 Faro airport saw 45.2% more passengers in comparison to the same period last year.
A spokesman for ANA said: “The fact that Easter fell at the end of April this year has positively affected the passenger numbers while the effects of the Icelandic volcano last April has also contributed to the significant growth.”
According to data from ANA, the biggest markets for growth came from travellers from the UK, France and Spain.
The increase in passenger numbers has been heralded by the president of the Algarve tourism board (ERTA), António Pina, as being a sign of recovery for the region.
António Pina told the Algarve Resident: “The data so far shows that 2011 is going to be a good year for tourism in the Algarve as with the statistics at Faro airport shows.
“The more people we have coming to the Algarve the more chance we have of marked recovery, although we understand that just because there are more people coming it does not mean that they are spending any more money.”
He added that the ERTA are constantly promoting the region abroad, and not just for the traditional draws of the sun, sea and golf, but also features such as nature tourism and health and well being.“The Algarve has many jewels in its crown, the climate, the beautiful blue of the sky that is great for artists and film production and the welcoming attitude of the people as well as sun, sea and sand,” said António Pina.
He added: “The region is special because this is not just a place you can come on holiday for one or two weeks but is also a perfect place for retired people and those who want to stay for four or five months. The Algarve, in my opinion, really is half way to paradise.”
While rising passenger numbers at Faro airport indicate increased visitor levels, the financial restraints of the ERTA are making it difficult for the entity to be able to meet all the demands of tourists.
The tourism office located in Albufeira on Rua 5 de Outubro is currently unable to be kept open seven days a week because of a lack of staff to man the post constantly.
“This limitation has occurred because the Algarve tourism board is unable to hire more staff to improve the service however we are trying to overcome this problem,” said António Pina.
He added: “Despite the limitations in our way, we will continue to try and provide the widest service possible for tourists in the Algarve, especially in areas that have high numbers of tourists.”
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