Portuguese tourism minister allays fears over Thomas Cook collapse on Sky News
Fears that the collapse of travel agents and package holiday company Thomas Cook could have a negative impact on hotels in Portugal’s Algarve holiday region were allayed last week on Sky News by Portugal’s new secretary of state for tourism.
Rita Marques, who heads venture capital company Portugal Ventures and was appointed as tourism minister in a government reshuffle following the October General Election which saw the PS socialists sweep to power for a second term, said the collapse had not had a “major impact in Portugal”.
“We had been preparing for this big boom in tourism and so the collapse of Thomas Cook has not had a wide impact on the industry at this stage” she said talking to Sky News’s economy and financial anchor Ian King on his daily show Ian King Live.
“Thomas Cook services will be replaced soon by other operators so that very soon the situation will be under control” says Marques who is Secretary of State for Tourism.
Thomas Cook left debts of around €20 million in Portugal after its collapse in October this year with an impact which, according to Diário de Notícias, was “much worse than had initially been anticipated.”
The Algarve and Madeira were the regions most affected by the bankruptcy with Elidérico Viegas, President of the AHETA (Algarve Hotel Association) revealing that at least 32 hotel companies were financially affected in the Algarve with lost turnover losses of at least €15 million for July, August and September.
Portugal Ventures, a government entity which resulted in the merger of three VC companies in Portugal – AICREP Capital, InovCapital and Turismo Capital, was appointed as Secretary of State for Tourism on Monday 21 October this year.
Tourism revenues in Portugal have boomed since 2010 according to figures from the Bank of Portugal, skyrocketing from around €8Bn in 2010 to a staggering €16Bn in 2018.
While around 55,000 tourists were stranded in Greece in the aftermath of the Tomas Cook collapse, competitors managed to fill the void.
“Tourism for us represents around 20% of our economy and the numbers we have been seeing over the past two years are astonishing despite the weakness of the Pound against the Euro.
In expelling the allure of Portugal, the new minister said that Portugal does have a “very elastic offer” not only in Lisbon and the Algarve but also in other places such as Porto, the Douro and the north of Portugal, the Alentejo, Madeira and the Azores.
On the issue of environmental damage caused by increased tourism, Rita Marques said the Government was succeeding in counteracting the effects. “When we laid down our strategy for tourism in 2017 we had sustainability built into the DNA of our tourism strategy — offsetting the social, economic and environmental impacts with actions, objectives and matrixes already put in place to be attained by 2027”