60% of Algarve hotels suffer cancellations over virus fears
Portugal’s tourism sector fears that hotels will be forced to shut down if the Coronavirus grips the country in the coming weeks.
The fears were voiced after it was announced last week that “over 60% of hotels in the Algarve region have had their bookings cancelled for the next three months” by the President of the Algarve Hotels, Tourist Establishments (AHETA), Eledérico Viegas.
The situation, he stresses, is “extremely worrying because of what is happening and because it is progressing and having a negative impact.”
“In addition to the cancellations, we are not seeing ticket sales for the summer.” The Easter period – a period when the Algarve region is popular for congresses and events linked to brand marketing and promotion – has, however seen a fall of around 40% in bookings through cancellations”.
The reports which originate from international operators point to holidaymakers and congress delegates being “more worried about possible contamination on the flight or at airports”.
In turn, the President of the Algarve Regional Health Administration (ARS), Paulo Morgado, told the newspaper Público that starting from this week the Regional Health Laboratory “can now carry out COVID-19 tests.
Eledérico Viegas adds, “We are still waiting for the procedures manual that we have asked the authorities for in case we have guests with viral symptoms.”
On 27 February, the Portugal Hotel Association (AHP) issued a communiqué in which it stated that the Director-General of Health had promised to issue, within days, specific guidelines for the hotel industry, along the same lines as those already released by companies, airports, airline companies, shipping agents, maritime authorities and port authorities.”
According to the Vila Galé group, one of the largest national hotel chains in the sector, did not reveal exact numbers but admitted that the Coronavirus have resulted in “some cancellations or postponements of corporate events that were booked for March”, and added too that there had been “a slight reduction in the number of new bookings for the coming months.”
Various events, both large and small, have also been cancelled including the Portugal Travel and Tourism Industry Fair – BTL which should have been running this week but has been postponed until the end of May.
The results of the virus are forcing companies and other economic agents to permanently reassess the situation, taking decisions based on the best and latest information available.
But despite Portugal’s national carrier TAP’s decision to cancel 3,500 flights after a falloff in bookings, there have not been any cancellations of cruise ships docking in Lisbon because of the virus.
In fact, according to the ports authority APL, January saw an uptick in the number of cruise ships docking at Lisbon. There were 20 stops in January compared to 12 like-for-like on 2019.