Brexit fallout worries Madeira’s regional government

 In News, Tourism

The Regional Government of Madeira is concerned with the impact of Brexit on tourist numbers from the United Kingdom – one of its strongest markets.

The Regional governor Miguel Albuquerque said this week he was “apprehensive” too at the effects that Britain’s exit from the EU could have on the lives of Portuguese émigrés living in the UK.

In 2018 Madeira saw a falloff of between 6% and 10.5% at hotels on the island from Germany and the UK. Germany fell 6% between October 2017 and 2018, while the UK, which represents 24.9% and is the second largest overseas market for Madeira fell 10.5%.

“We have to think that we have a large community in the United Kingdom as well as the flow of tourism both to Madeira and the Algarve which are the two main national destinations when it comes to UK tourism,” he said.

Referring to Brexit as a “process of suicide”and that Britain’s exit from the EU would be “catastrophic” particularly for the UK.

Miguel Albuquerque made his comments to the Lusa news agency during a visit to the Câmara de Lobos on the island when he also reacted to the British House of Commons rejection of Theresa May’s EU Brexit deal.

“What they are discussing at the moment isn’t even about leaving; it’s about power.”

This week the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa and the Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva said that the rights of Portuguese citizens registered by 29 March 2019 in the UK would be guaranteed as would be the rights of UK citizens residing in Portugal.

These rights include social rights — having access to health services and recognition of each others driving licenses.

Academic and professional qualifications of the two countries will be recognised up to the 31 December 2020 – the end of the transition period.

On the question of bi-lateral trading arrangements between the two countries, António Costa said, “It would be an illusion to think that the exit of Portugal’s fourth most important market will not affect Portuguese companies and the economy and will affect them even worse in the case of a disorderly Brexit.”

The Government announced that a special “lane” will be created for British citizens at the two airports which receive the most tourists from the United Kingdom: Faro and Funchal.