What YOU are saying about the A22 tolls – 6


Here is a selection of what YOU are saying about the introduction of tolls on the A22. Email us at [email protected].

THE REALITY: This could be a backward move. Road tolls can be a lazy and dangerous way to tax a country – and what a gorgeous country you have. You have it all but I feel you are about to make your fiscal problems even worse. What you have is one of the most enviable golf destinations in the world.

I remember being a guest in a locker room of a very prestigious Scottish golf club. It was blowing a gale and the rain was going sideways. A group of (obviously) well-heeled Americans were heard to say ‘ we love your courses but not your weather. We are off to the Algarve.’ Just like that.

GOLF IS THE ALGARVE. Maybe a subsidy for golfers until things get better? Encourage and market the ‘all inclusive holiday.’ Attract the bird watchers and walkers. Put on night markets and lengthen the tourist season. Publicise your cultural heritage and most of all, please remember that your UK visitors have to pay 86 pence to buy one euro. That’s the reality and that’s what’s reducing the tourist numbers from the UK.

It’s not about the undoubted beauty of the Algarve and its people but about affordability. It’ll pass but it’ll take a few years. If restaurants and other tourist-led retailers take a little less profit and pass the benefits on to the customer, it’ll get noticed, spoken about and reported upon. Tourist numbers will grow again but I have a feeling it’s going to be a long haul. Best wishes from a great Algarve fan. HARRY MAXWELL

RIDICULOUS Airlines have cancelled winter flights, tourism is down so, in their wisdom, Portugal decide to introduce motorway tolls on the only really accessible road in the Algarve! We drive down each year and cross into Portugal at Ayamonte – we have no option but to go on the A22 at least until Castro Marim. There are no toll booths (as there is no funding to pay for them) so the onus is on us to find out how to pay – ridiculous! We are not newcomers to Portugal and do fully understand the mercurial way in which they seem to make these snap decisions. However, for a country that is keen to increase and develop tourism this is surely a backward step. I shudder at the thought of the 125 next summer and the inevitable increase in accidents. Come on Portugal, in the greater scheme of things this is not going to help your economic problems! VICKS LESTER

VALUE OF TOURISTS Imposing tolls on users of the A22 motorway shows a complete misunderstanding by ‘officials’ of the value to the region of tourists, who, after all, are one of the main earners of revenue for the national government and  local Camaras. In a time of economic restraint Europe wide, the government needs to recognise that imposing another ‘tourist tax’ will discourage holidaymakers from visiting the Algarve, where visitor numbers are markedly down this year, don’t believe government statistics on this, talk to your local bar owner, restaurant owner business, and ask him how he has fared. The signs of an unravelling of the local tourist economy are all there.

1). Cancellation of winter flights by TUI and Thomas Cook to the Algarve

2). Under-booked accommodation, quiet bars, empty restaurants.

3). Unwillingness to react to economic reality, e.g. response to a falling number of customers being to put prices UP to cover the difference in the number of customers you have.

4). The people who used to come on holiday to the Algarve now going to Turkey and Morocco.

5). The people who came here to play golf, now going to Turkey because of the stratospheric price of playing golf here.

6). The proposed charging of motorway tolls is a sign of a lack of imagination and inventiveness in the raising of revenue by the government, akin to the gasps of a drowning man clutching at straws, and adds pressure to the downward spiral of the Algarve as a destination. How to respond to this downward spiral?

1). Market the Algarve properly in the target countries for visitors.

2). Get competitive, offer special deals, all inclusive holidays, competitive golf prices.

3). Create an all year round market, there are more than two months in a season! (July and August).

4). Be prepared to cut prices to encourage visitors.

5). Dispense with useless bureaucracy, a licence to put a table and chairs outside your establishment, ridiculous!.  Businesses need the right conditions to flourish, red tape like this chokes off these conditions.

6). Kick the Lisbon centric government up the backside, make it realise the importance of the Algarve to the overall Portuguese economy, resulting (hopefully) in them getting onside with promoting the place.

7). Encourage excellent customer service.

People, this is the most beautiful part of Europe, give it the right conditions and it will flourish to the benefit of visitors, residents, government et al. Keep sticking your head in the sand and pretending that the problem will go away will result in falling visitor numbers, bankrupt businesses and no government revenue, everyone loses!. ADRIAN WOOLDRIDGE