SEF Easter strike worries Algarve tourism sector

Tourism and hotel bosses in the Algarve are worried about the impact of the strike called by inspectors and administrative staff of Portugal’s immigration and borders service (SEF) over the Easter period.

Administrative staff are on their last day of a two-day strike (April 5-6), which on Wednesday led to the closure of 90% of SEF offices across Portugal.

SEF inspectors on the other hand are due to keep the strike going until Easter Sunday, potentially causing disruption at national airports at a time when many hotels in the Algarve are reaching 90% occupation.

João Fernandes, president of the Algarve tourism board (RTA), believes the government should step in if the strike begins to affect airport operations at this crucial time for the regional sector.

“We call on the government to consider the possibility of a civil requisition to guarantee minimum services, and also a PSP (police) reinforcement,” he told TSF radio this week.

While the tourism chief recognises that SEF workers are entitled to organising a strike, he stressed that this is a “critical period for a region that lives off of tourism and has a right to benefit from that economic activity without major constraints.”

The president of the Association of Algarve Hotels and Tourist Establishments (AHETA) has highlighted that the way how tourists are received at airports reflects the image of a country.

A client doesn’t like to wait in a queue to enter the country more than double the time that they spent on a flight,” Hélder Martins told the radio station. “We hope that good sense will prevail.

By Michael Bruxo

[email protected]