British tourists fly into the Algarve by the plane load
Scheduled flights from the United Kingdom which had, until before last weekend, been less than half full, were jam-packed with British tourists this week looking to soak up a week or two on Portugal’s sunny Algarve coast.
Faro airport has been transformed by the British Government’s decision last Thursday to open up an air corridor between the two countries, dispensing now with the mandatory requirement for people returning to the UK from Portugal to go into quarantine for two weeks reports the Algarve Resident
By Friday last week, 13 planes bought holidaymakers delighted that they won’t be returning to quarantine and on Saturday the number of full lights was 15.
And since the introduction of the air corridor, British tourists have been flooding into the Algarve with airline bookings to Portugal from the United Kingdom skyrocketing by 723% with bookings in the Algarve until October according to the newspaper Jornal de Notícias with local accommodation bookings in guest houses and bed & breakfast establishments increasing by 47%.
Ticket sales to Faro airport have shot up between 400% and 1,250% with the result that Ryanair has had to increase the number of aircraft flying to the Algarve.
In an interview with Portuguese TV channel TVI124, João Fernandes, President of the Algarve Regional Tourism Association (RTA), said that flight bookings taken by TAP had increased by 300% in just a few hours after the announcement.
Despite worrying headlines in the British press about the price of tickets sky-rocketing six-fold (which was completely untrue), airlines have in fact been offering all kinds of deals, as are hotels and travel agencies.
For example, Ryanair celebrated the opening of the corridor with the United Kingdom with tickets at just €20.
In a statement, Ryanair said, “The inclusion of Portugal on the list of the UK’s tourist corridors is excellent news for the millions of Ryanair customers,” stressing that the special rates are “valid for passengers for the end of August and September.”
People who had previously booked and cancelled have now rebooked with the return of British tourists having an immediate effect.
João Fernandes said, “It has been very important that the travel corridor opened before September, traditionally the month with the most number of hotel night stays by Britons (meaning those that come, come for longer periods of time).
“Last year we had around 758,000 bed occupancies in September, and October was the fourth month with most bookings,” he said. “This means we have two quite significant months ahead of us,” he said.
Fernandes added that the weather in the Algarve is generally excellent for the beach until October, plus it is the month when British golfers tend to descend on the Algarve en-masse.”
The Algarve tourism chief also said he was confident that: ‘nature and nautical’ tourism niches would “encourage British holidaymakers to head here.”
But did this means that the Algarve autumn and winter could end up making up for the disastrous summer months of May, June and July?
“It would be marvellous if they did, but pretty unlikely,” said Fernandes, although the region will be pulling out all the stops to make as much possible of sporting fixtures such as Portugal Grand Prix at the Algarve International Autodrome in October and the Moto GP in November.
“We’ll do as much as we can, but it’s unlikely to be another summer,” he said, adding “there are no miracles” expected to make up for the massive economic hit caused by Covid-19.
Airlines however have seen a welcome surge in stocks. According to this is money website: Easyjet was up by 3.5% while Ryanair stock rose 2.9%.Tui rose 4.8%, Wizz Air by 1.5% and AIG (which owns British Airways) climbed 1.4%. The Dart Group which owns Jet2 rose 2.2%.
However, despite the lifting of restrictions, the UK’s Daily Telegraph states that there are still some areas of the country that should be avoided: Porto, Lisbon and the Vale do Tejo.