Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes has announced a “significant increase” in bookings for the end of February and Easter, which could pave the way for a normal summer season.
The booking boom started after Portugal dropped the requirement for arriving air passengers with a valid Covid-19 certificate to present a negative Covid-19.
“Since restrictions were eased, we have been seeing a significant increase in bookings from the UK and Ireland for end of February as well as Easter, which suggests that summer could be at the level of a normal year,” Fernandes told Lusa news agency.
The president of the Algarve tourism board (RTA) said the UK’s school spring half term has brought more Brits to the Algarve, with occupation levels on flights to Faro Airport continuing to grow and the number of daily flights above 100.
Bookings for this Easter – as well as for the March-May golf season – are also nearing the numbers of 2019, the “best tourist year in the Algarve”, he said.
“This increase in demand and bookings for the spring holiday season is a great sign of tourism recovery for these markets and for summer,” the tourism chief said, predicting that 2022 will finally be the year the sector begins to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
Fernandes also said that Portugal’s decision to no longer demand a negative Covid-19 test from arriving air passengers with a Covid-19 Digital Certificate has changed the game for the Algarve.
“This has increased people’s confidence to travel,” he said, adding that it has also led to a “substantial reduction in expenses” for holidaymakers.
In some cases, “the mandatory testing ended up costing more than the actual flight tickets,” said the man who leads the Algarve’s tourism board (RTA) and association (ATA).
Fernandes also said that the Algarve has benefitted from Portugal’s clear vaccination rules regarding the entry of children aged over 12 as opposed to rival markets such as Spain, as well as the “nice weather” at a time when most of Europe is facing a harsher winter.
But it’s not all good news. Fernandes lamented that the Algarve’s tourism sector continues to struggle with a “lack of human resources”, as well as the cost of energy and other services provided to the sector.
The regional tourism boss also pointed out that the EU’s decision to remove Canada from its travel ‘green list’ has affected the “very relevant growth” that this market was registering in the Algarve.
However, he hopes that this decision will be reversed on February 28 when it is due to be reviewed, “because it is not justifiable”.