RTA President André Gomes stressed that “the most significant impact” of the August fire in the Algarve “was precisely on these sections of the Rota Vicentina, namely in the Odeceixe area.
The replacement of a burnt pedestrian bridge and Rota Vicentina signage is a priority identified by the president of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA) after visiting on Thursday, September 21, a section affected by the August fire in Aljezur.
The fire, which broke out in Odemira (Beja) but spread to the municipalities of Aljezur and Monchique, affected the entire surroundings of the Algarve town of Odeceixe and sections of the Rota Vicentina pedestrian and cycling route, which the president of the RTA, André Gomes, classified as a “strategic” offer in the nature tourism segment.
André Gomes explained that the visit was part of the “decentralised” monthly meeting programme that the current RTA executive committee initiated when it took office and envisages “visiting equipment, a service, and a structure in terms of tourism on offer in the region”.
He explained that these actions aim to “highlight good examples and the quality of the offer” but also to address some “current” issues, such as the effects of the August fire on the Algarve’s tourist infrastructure.
André Gomes stressed that “the most significant impact” in the Algarve “was precisely on these sections of the Rota Vicentina, namely in the Odeceixe area”, where the entire landscape is burnt.
After the fire, the damage was assessed, and the results transmitted to the Government, which is now working with local and regional entities to define support mechanisms for the recovery of affected areas and activities, such as tourism, he noted.
The objective of this work is to, “as quickly as possible, together with the Rota Vicentina Association, restore the infrastructure in terms of signage, route marking and in particular a wooden pedestrian bridge, which burnt down and was completely damaged by the fire”, he pointed out.
The president of the RTA recalled that September and October are the period of the year in which the “nature tourism, cycling routes and walking routes segment sees greater demand from tourists” and highlighted that the Rota Vicentina continues to be sought, despite the effects of the fire.
“It was extraordinary to see during the visit, although we were visiting a section impacted by the fire and which damaged some of the infrastructure that makes up this route, the arrival of international tourists on public transport to that same section to follow this route”, he said.
André Gomes assured that even the most affected section could be visited but highlighted the importance of replacing the bridge as soon as possible to prevent the route from becoming inaccessible.
“The Route can still be followed, even in this section, because this bridge passes over a river that, due to the drought, is dry, which allows people to pass through the riverbed. But, obviously, in a period of rain or floods, which are not completely unusual in this territory, the route will be interrupted until we have this wooden bridge”, he argued.
Regarding affected companies, André Gomes said that “fortunately”, the impact on the Algarve territory “was very small or even almost nil”, and there were only “one or two local accommodations” in Aljezur, which “suffered some impact of the fire” in the surroundings, “with none being totally affected or completely closed”.
“Unfortunately, this impact was very strong in the Alentejo and particularly in the municipality of Odemira”, he lamented, recalling the complete destruction of hotel units in the Alentejo municipality.