Portugal’s growing motorhome sector faces “absurd and discriminatory rules”

Portugal’s motorhoming federation (FPA) has urged the government to create new laws to regulate the sector, currently bogged down by “absurd and discriminatory rules” despite the growing number of motorhomers travelling the country.

“There isn’t a law that decently addresses motorhoming, motorhomes and the necessary infrastructures that support them. The few laws that do exist are useless as they were written without listening to the organisations that represent the sector. They are also riddled with errors and inconsistencies,” says José Pires, president of FPA.

There are also a few resolutions from the Council of Ministers and local regulations, but all these do is make the situation worse.

“All these rules restrict motorhomers in a discriminatory and absurd way without offering credible alternatives. They do not address the real need: a national network with several types of supporting infrastructures that are intelligently situated so that motorhomers can be directed to places and routes of interest.”

In the Algarve, “heavy-handed” policing in recent years has seen motorhomers kicked out of a riverside spot in Silves (click here) and fined along Western Algarve’s Costa Vicentina (click here).

Since then, the Algarve unveiled a “motorhome-friendly” network to show that motorhomers are welcome in the region and can choose several locations to stay legally without fear of being fined or sent away.

Still, Reis says that motorhomers in Portugal face a “climate of hostility”. Though he says there are “a few good exceptions” in the country, Spain is now offering motorhomers better conditions than Portugal.

This is seen as a missed opportunity by FPA as the number of motorhomers, both in Portugal and in Europe, is growing around 15% every year.

This year, motorhoming is expected to account for around two million overnight stays in Portugal – representing an economic impact of around €100 million.

“It is possible that these numbers could keep growing in a sustainable way,” stressed Reis, but only if Portugal changes its attitude towards motorhomers.

According to FPA, around 80% of motorhomers are retired and prefer travelling during the low season and along the Portuguese coast, such as the Algarve and the Western Alentejo.

Though there are no official records, it is believed that there are 4,000 to 5,000 motorhomes owned by Portuguese residents.

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