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Sun and sea continue to be a winning formula

by INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Algarve’s tourism authority is confident that it has set a clear marketing plan for 2012, with strong focus being placed on the winning formula of sun and sea, golf and the meeting industry.

The plan for the region, agreed to by the Algarve tourism board Turismo do Algarve and Turismo de Portugal, follows the release of the latest annual tourism figures this week.

Next year, the priorities will be to continue promotion of the beaches and the climate, which have attracted millions of tourists to the Algarve since the 60s and remain the reason why the region is firmly placed on the world tourist map.

In addition, golf, a sector which helps to fight the problem of seasonality and which has earned world recognition for its quality offer, and the meeting industry (MI), a product believed to bring a new visitor segment to the region, will be heavily promoted.

The government is also placing strong emphasis on residential tourism for 2012 and along with nautical, nature and health tourism will be promoting these “developing areas” in a bid to further boost the economy.

A marketing plan to re-launch the ‘Algarve’ brand in the international markets has been defined with priorities being to reach out to British, German, Benelux, Scandinavian, Spanish, French, Irish, Polish and Russian audiences.

Meanwhile, figures for the tourism year August 2010-August 2011 were released by Turismo de Portugal showing a slight increase in the number of visitors staying in holiday accommodation in the Algarve this August in comparison to last year.

Not only was there a 3.5% increase on last year in the number of people staying at hotels and tourist resorts this August but they were also booking more nights than in 2010, representing a 4.5% rise, or 2.58 million overnight stays, this summer month.

Overnight stays in the region averaged 5.3 nights in August, a slight increase on last year (5.2 nights).

A highlight from the report was the number of Dutch visitors staying in tourist accommodation in the Algarve, up 20.8% this August in comparison to the same month last year, while airport figures showed passenger movement from the Dutch market increased by 18% (75,416 passengers) in the same period.

The British market was again leading the way in August, with airport passenger movement up 6.2% (454,841 passengers), and overnight stays up by 18.1% on 2010.

However, the number of Portuguese, German and Irish visitors booking holiday accommodation in the Algarve was down by -1.2%, -1.5% and -4.3% respectively, as were the number of German (-21%) and Irish (-14.5%) passengers going through Faro airport.

Ryanair, easyJet and Monarch continue to be the most popular airlines flying to Faro, representing more than half of movements at the airport in August (53.8%).

But when comparing to August 2010, stood out from the rest with a 42.5% increase in passenger numbers during the same month this year. Ryanair and easyJet were actually down -4.7% and -7.4% respectively on last year.

A total of 66,030 golf rounds were played in the region in August, a slight fall on the same period last year (-0.5%).

Expert predictions for next year are that the golf sector in particular and the Algarve tourism industry as a whole will be hit hard following government proposals to increase the VAT rate to 23% on golf (currently at 6%) and restaurants (currently at 13%).

On a more positive note, total revenue from tourist accommodation in the Algarve this August was up 7.3% in comparison to the same period last year, representing nearly €136 million.