Tourism “a long way from recovery”: hoteliers call for continued support

AHP, Portugal’s hoteliers association, says tourism remains “a very long way from recovery”, and “won’t reach the levels of 2019 before 2024”.

As a result, business people are calling for State support for the sector to be maintained.

There will be no such thing as a quick recovery, says AHP’s vice president Frederica Costa . The best the sector can hope for this year is 40% – 50% of results achieved in 2019, and even this “would be fantastic”.

The truth is that no matter how many tourists are counted as ‘arriving here’ or ‘arriving there’, the country as a whole is hurting.

The VII Forum for Internal Tourism held in Coimbra saw the panel ‘representing restaurants, travel agencies, touristic animation and car rentals’ “support the idea that for many businesses in the sector the worst is yet to come.”

Said Carlos Moura, vice president of AHRESP (the Portuguese restaurants association) revenue from international tourism fell from €18.4 billion in 2019, to €7.7 billion in 2020.

For the first three months of this year, this meant the loss of 101,000 jobs compared to the same period a year earlier.

“We will have a slow recovery, but there will be a hiatus of time in which many people will suffer”, he predicted.

Much the same is envisaged the car rentals sector, which has already labelled 2020 “the worst year ever”.

Data from the sector’s association ARAC shows revenue fell by 64% between 2019 and 2020. How will it be this year? For the time being, ARAC’s secretary general says most businesses have at least managed to hold on to their staff.

The same cannot be said for APECATE, the Portuguese association for the congresses touristic animation and events. President António Marques Vidal says businesses have had to shed “many professionals” and are now faced with “a lack of specialised staff” as they try and get back to work.

Thus the call for State support to be maintained “at least until the end of the year”.

If not, president of APAVT, the Portuguese tourism and travel agency, has no doubt that businesses will go bust and yet more professionals will be sent into unemployment.

It was a dismal message, but the truth, stressed the panel, is that “if there isn’t recovery of tourism” (which provides so much in terms of Portugal’s GDP) “there won’t be economic recovery” either.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com