By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
Rain marked the start of August, traditionally the busiest month for tourism in the region, and while for some beach businesses the downpours saw a downturn in trade, other retailers were pleased to have some much needed business as customers came in off the beaches.
The economic situation in Portugal and the rest of the world has seen almost every sector of industry affected and tourism, the life blood of the Algarve, has not been left unscathed.
However, statistics have revealed that the problems may be less than expected.
A report released by the Portuguese Tourism Board has shown that in the Algarve tourism levels continue to increase despite the economic conditions, with the number of British visitors shown to be on the up.
The report compared statistics from May 2010 with those of May this year and showed that not only were the number of passengers passing through Faro airport up but so too were the average number of nights spent in the Algarve, the number of people staying in the region and the takings from hotels.
In total, British visitors accounted for more than half of those passing through Faro airport, with 337,727 of the total 595,101 passengers in May being from the UK, while of all the 1,188,628 overnight stays in the Algarve, 489,898 of these were taken by British people.
Generally speaking, the statistics were very positive. During May 2011 there was an increase in passengers of 6.4% in comparison to May 2010, according to data from ANA airports.
All the principal markets using the airport recorded increases, with the Spanish market up by 17.9%. The major exception was the German market, which was down by 15.6%.
The figures show that low cost airlines continue to be the most popular at Faro airport, with 51.1% of all flights being serviced by Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2.com, although while Ryanair saw an increase of 29.6% in passengers, easyJet recorded a fall of 3.4%. British airline Monarch registered 10.5% of the total passenger numbers.
The number of nights that people stayed in the region during May showed an increase of 8% to 1.8 million, with a clear shift in just who is coming to the stay in the region.
During the month, the number of Portuguese visitors having overnight stays was down by 20.9% in comparison to May 2010, German overnight stays were also down by 4.4% and the Dutch down by 2.3%.
Meanwhile, the key markets of visitors from the UK and Spain were both up dramatically during May 2011, up by 33.2% and 21.7% respectively.
Another positive indicator for the Algarve tourism sector was the average number of nights spent in hotels and other similar establishments, which increased marginally from an average of 4.1 nights in May 2010 to an average of 4.3 in May 2011.
The only sector that saw a downturn in fortune in the report was the golfing industry. Traditionally, May is one of the peak months for rounds of golf in the region and while the numbers were down this May in comparison to May 2010, the fall was not great at -0.6% and there were still 93,885 rounds of golf played in the Algarve during the month.
August may have begun with rain but hopefully, if the figures reflect those of May 2011, the fortunes of the Algarve and the tourism industry will have a sunnier outlook for the rest of the month.