Planned cruise link between Portimão and Morocco “at risk of being scrapped”

Plans to launch a cruise connection between Portimão and the Moroccan city of Tangier are becoming increasingly unlikely to move forward.

Reports Público newspaper, the project has stumbled upon several issues – the first being that security forces (including GNR and PSP police as well as the SEF border authority and even tax authorities) lack the resources that would be needed to launch the cruise link.

The paper adds that SEF believes that the link would bring “risks to internal security”, given the issues that already exist involving alleged drug and human trafficking routes between the two countries.

Last but not least, Portimão port would need to undergo substantial renovations to welcome the cruise connection, Público adds.

A source “linked to the process” told the newspaper that Portimão port is “little more than a shack” and would need CCTV cameras, passport control booths, IT tools and rest areas.

SEF alone would need three times the number of staff it has in the Algarve right now, which “is unlikely to even reach 50”, the source added.

Those who were promoting the idea have also changed their tune.

Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes, who last month welcomed the project saying that the Algarve had to diversify its markets due to Covid restrictions, told the paper that she hasn’t heard anything back from the government about the project for “three weeks”. She added that the project has begun to “lose interest”.

And although the Moroccan government had announced plans to launch the cruise connection as soon as this month, the Portuguese government has yet to provide any concrete information about the route.

Público adds that both the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Internal Administration have refused to comment on the project.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com