A seminar on mobility in the Algarve – and how it can be improved – has shown that at least one mayor in the region can think laterally. Monchique’s Rui André has gone beyond demanding an end to damaging A22 motorway tolls that have indirectly led to so much local misery, and devised a solution that blows away the government’s only argument against them: money.
A tourist tax of €1 charged by all officially registered hotels, guesthouses, hostels etc would bring in €20 million easily, as recent figures show the Algarve gets around 20 million so-called ‘sleepovers’ every year – and these are set to rise even higher.
Just “half that amount” (ie €10 million) could go to offsetting the loss of income through abolishing tolls, explains André – while the rest “could be used to improve other roads in the region and increase the scope of cultural and touristic activities”.
No stranger to thinking outside the box – it was André who started the push to attract firefighters by offering them tax incentives (click here) – the interior borough council president is now keen to get the plan pushed by AMAL, the association of Algarve councils.
As he stressed: “The situation right now is shameful. It is all very nice to talk about ‘new mobility’, anticipating and preparing the future, but what is happening with the ‘old’ mobility in the Algarve is a disgrace”.
It makes no sense that a driver unwilling to pay for the tolled A22 has to take two hours from Faro to arrive in Monchique, just as “three hours of queues over the Guadiana Bridge” as drivers tackle toll machines are another nonsense.
“If everyone agrees that the tolls are an obstacle for the development and mobility of the Algarve, I do not understand why they still exist”, he said.
The seminar also heard from neighbouring mayor José Amarelinho – the only council chief so far to lambast the government’s continued insistence on backing gas and oil exploration, no matter how many national citizens rise up in protest.
Amarelinho told the seminar that the government “cannot talk about ‘clean energies’ and ‘decarbonisation’ on one hand, and “permit outdated, obsolete energy processes” based on oil on the other.
“The window of opportunity for fossil fuels closed a long time ago”, Amarelinho told his audience, thus it is “an imperative politically, morally and from the point of view of conscience” that legislative measures are taken to halt the continued exploration of these forms of fuel, and “take the country decisively in the direction of renewable, clean energies”.
The “Next.mov – Smart Region Summit” was held in Portimão on Friday and promoted by AMAL, the intermunicipal community of the Algarve.
Other developments – again powered by Rui André – included the imminent launch of a smartphone App to give visitors an across-the-board picture of all regional transport services available. Viajómetro will soon be available on the mobility site: vamos.pt. Further details to follow.