The Motorhomers polemic Letter 1

Dear Editor,

Correspondents Cindy Thomson and Rayner Otter wrote very convincingly in defence of the Snowgeese’s complaints (Algarve Resident edition February 12).

They might well ponder, though, on the locals’ view of wild parking. Not only is it seen as an eyesore, a kind of favela on wheels, but perceived as a mystery as to why Mr Otter’s university-educated folk would forego any of the accepted norms of privacy as they sit about on open display in parking lots.

‘Homes’ jammed into the congregated mass of motorhomes on space paid for and maintained from the locals’ tax euros. Examples abound in the East Algarve.

Tavira’s municipal market parking, motorhomes in line astern; Olhão’s port precinct cheek to jowl. And the newly well landscaped Manta Rota beachgoers cobbled parking more densely than a fairground (where they may be observed taking their sundowners beneath the shadow of a bilingual board forbidding wild parking).

Locals too would find it difficult to identify these seasonal visitors as tourists.

SRIs – seasonal residential immigrants – is probably more accurate. Not much fun surely, months on end in a big tin box in a parking lot. And as for their spend in the supermarkets and their lifestyle expenditures and its place in the local economy – it will not vary simply because they are parked in designated areas, will it now?

Many SRIs will shy away from having to pay at all for parking sites and do flock to the wild areas.

As a straight speaking Yorkshire man put it: “After the heavy outlay on the vehicle, travel and fuel costs to come this far, if asked to pay maybe 200 pounds sterling or more to park, they might just as well stay at home, it’s cheaper.”

We had been canvassing a wild park for takers for a tranquil private farm site and soon found that the initial response was ‘Oh yes please’… then ‘five euros a day’ and up clank the no sale flags.

So much for motorhomer bashing, Mr Otter.

Well, how about a little authority bashing. Back in 82, the powers recognising the ‘explosive growth’ (their term) of this sector of tourism published Decree 192/82 in which the example of France was cited and especially her support for developers of rural sites was highlighted (pity the UK ignores the French example. “Fatigue can kill … take a break” command the motorway signs and if you do so in any of the service areas, you will be shooed away after an hour.)

Well, since then, layer upon layer of new rules and regulations smothered the original simple intent of that Decree. By the fourth page, the applicant for a licence to operate a site faces threats for multiple infringements (not enough bins/ no permanent reception), each worth fines around 30,000 euros. So he backs off and leaves it to the major league players who are smart enough to know what is investment and what is just bureaucracy gone mad – better open a bank.

So correspondent J. Rhodes has found what must be essentially a holiday site in the west. And what does this cost daily?

But for the winter visitors to the east Algarve, they have a choice of two older holiday sites in the central east. Both are very crowded and expensive.

Many told us that Castro Marim now boasted an ‘aire’ so we went to look. A little back street of grim houses looking onto some broken waste land which had been closed in with a paling fence.  A caravan sign announced its designation: ‘Voilá an aire’!

Many will, as foreseen by the legislators of ‘82, seek solace in the delightful rural areas of this Algarve and where they will possibly have been frustrated by the very dearth of rural sites and very probably scared away by the shotgun hooliganism (quaintly known hereabouts as hunting).


Vila Real de Santo António