Retailers want to discuss year-round tourism strategies

Algarve retailers association ACRAL has said it wants regional entities to join forces and develop a strategy to attract tourists “all year round”.

Recently-elected president Álvaro Viegas said that although the Algarve’s last two years of “record-breaking” tourism results are “naturally good news”, they’re still not good enough to fight the region’s “biggest structural problem: seasonality”.

He stressed in a statement: “We have a peak (of tourists) in July and August, with hotels booked to nearly 100% capacity; but in the remaining 10 months, more than half register booking levels of around 20%”.

This causes “social problems”, such as high unemployment during the low season.

“The hotel sector leaves around 9,000 people unemployed in November. It then hires them back in March or April,” he explained, leaving thousands jobless during half the year.

Seasonality also takes its toll on restaurants and businesses, as locals do not have enough spending power to keep the local economy thriving.

Admitting that the sun and beaches can’t be the main attraction during the winter, Viegas says alternatives must be found, suggesting “high-quality entertainment and different types of tourism, such as religious and heritage-based”.

[email protected]