Members of the Swedish community meeting with Lagos Mayor Hugo Pereira (second from left)

Swedish community raises €25,000 to help Lagos face pandemic

Lagos’ Swedish community has raised around €25,000 for the local council and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia charity in a bid to help purchase protective equipment and masks for people in need, as well as hospital staff, police and firemen.

The initiative was launched by Bo Rasmussen, Claes Lindesvärd and Viveka and Annika Feder who created a Facebook group called ‘Help Lagos Council – Donate Now!’ at the end of April to bring together those willing to help.

Their aim is to raise a total of €50,000 in the coming months – a goal they believe is possible due to “the huge positive response” the initiative has received from the local Swedish community.

“In its first week, the group had 200 members and the number is still rising,” says Annika Feder.

“The Swedish community is aware of the need to help Lagos and its inhabitants during these difficult times. This wonderful town has shown so much friendliness towards us all and this is our way of giving back and hoping it will help in a small way to get Lagos back on its feet,” she adds.

Annika has also provided some interesting insight into how the Algarve has evolved over the years as a destination for Swedish holidaymakers and expats.

“The Algarve was a major destination for Swedish tourists in the 70s and 80s. All charter organisers flew to the Algarve,” she explains.

The region’s appeal started to diminish over time, however, as it became cheaper to fly to other destinations viewed as more “exciting”.

The situation changed again when the Algarve came back into their radar in the early 2000s following a rise in terrorism.

“Tourism that went east now looked to the relatively safer west and to the small country at the far end of Europe that was spared from attacks. The Portuguese government and media took the opportunity to market itself as one of the safest countries. People started to travel and bookings from Sweden increased,” Annika says.

The Algarve even started to become a popular alternative to the Spanish south coast, thanks to the “good feeling you immediately got” when arriving in Portugal and being welcomed in that “Portuguese calm way.”

“Sure, it helps that the tax climate is favourable here but, for many, it is what the country and Lagos have to offer in terms of wellbeing. That is probably what we all strive for, to have a good life after retirement,” Annika adds.