Sex, drugs and violence: this is the headline used by national tabloid Jornal das Notícias today to highlight the depths to which downtown Albufeira has been plunged – purportedly by rowdy British tourists who ‘circulate night and day through (the holiday destination’s) Rua da Oura, “half naked and drunk” “leaving a trail of destruction”.
Says JN, there are reports of aggressions and of a shop mannequin being ‘raped’.
“It has been like this for years, but it’s getting worse”, says the paper.
Shopkeepers and passers-by are constantly being “importuned” and the situation “is changing the panorama of one what used to be one of the noblest thoroughfares in town”. A town that is often referred to as “the touristic capital of the Algarve”.
And here comes the punchline: the situation is causing “less and less families to choose this destination”, while traditional commerce (typical shops) are “disappearing”, says the paper.
Explains one shopkeeper whose name has apparently been protected “because everyone fears reprisals”: “For many years I had a shop mannequin at the door, but she was constantly ‘raped’. First, I tried to hide her inside. In the end, I had to get rid of her” as “totally drunk British people, often dressed in just thongs, insisted on simulating sexual practices with her”.
Said the shopkeeper, the antics left “a very disagreeable impression”.
JN continues that these days tour operators are actually advising clients not to venture to that part of town.
“There are families that have to cover their children’s eyes so that they don’t see Brits that are completely naked”, one told the paper.
“It’s a disgrace”, said ‘Maria’, who runs a café on what is often called ‘the strip’. (The official name for the street is Avenida Sá Carneiro) .“No one does anything about it”, she explains, pointing the finger at bar owners’ whose chief concern, in her opinion, is to sell drinks.
The tour operator said the situation is ‘surreal’, in that businesses seem to be turning a blind eye to all the antics, instead of calling police.
JN also spoke with a Portuguese holidaymaker who took objection to a drunken reveller groping his girlfriend in a bar, and retaliated.
“I pushed him, and got him away. But when I left, I was punched in the back and ended up unconscious. Everyone saw what happened, but no-one did a thing…”
Asked if he would ever return to Albufeira, the man retorted: “Never”, adding that the next morning, he and his partner found the streets “full of vomit, broken bottles and rubbish everywhere”.
According to another, the state of inebriation of revellers is such that they can end up sleeping in the streets “because they can’t remember the name of their hotel”.
JN stresses that all these reports have been “confirmed by hundreds of images and videos” shared over social media by local groups that are furious over the “death of family tourism” and want “urgent intervention by the authorities to stem this spiral of degradation”.
Along with the drunkenness and disorderly behaviour is “undisguised drug trafficking”. Explains a local named only as Roberto: “The minute I arrive in Rua da Oura I am approached by dealers or users. They ask if I want something, or if I have anything. It’s a scandal, the ease with which these traffickers move openly through the street. In some cases they walk around among people disguised as families, with pushchairs and everything”.
Fed up with seeing a hole in a tree being used for drug drops near her front door, ‘Ana’ “decided to block up the hole with cement”, writes JN.
“Now I have people coming to complain, saying I will be fined, because the tree will die…” She tells the paper.
The report ends with two short paragraphs: “Town Council in silence: JN has tried to hear the municipal council of Albufeira on complaints by citizens, but despite various attempts at contact, we did not receive an answer before we went to press.
“Mayor José Carlos Rolo, in a recent interview with a local paper, said he recognised “an increase in adequate behaviour”.
The photograph for this story was taken from the Facebook page of Domingos Conceição who posted it earlier this month, with the caption: “Rua da Oura at its worst”.
Comments below show the strength of local feeling against what are referred to as “British rubbish”.