Algarve tourism chief has “moderate Easter expectations”

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The President of the Algarve Tourism Association, João Fernandes, says he has “moderate expectations” for a return to some kind of normality by Easter.

In an interview with the online business daily Dinheiro Vivo this week, he said despite the resurgence of the pandemic in Portugal casting a shadow over the start of the holiday season from Easter, he nevertheless believed that there were “many positive signs” for 2021, highlighting the fact that two airlines with bases at Faro Airport – Ryanair and easyJet will start services in March – together they will account for 60% of passengers during a normal year”.
And despite the pandemic and the Brexit effect which could reduce the spending power of British travellers,” João Fernandes says he is feeling hopeful.
“We have the expectation that this lockdown in Europe, including the UK, and the speed of vaccinations could create a herd community among risk groups, which would, starting in March, lead to fewer people needing intensive care and fewer deaths,” said the tourism chief.
“This could change the perception of risk associated with the pandemic and the opportunity to travel.”
It is still not clear yet, whether there will be air bridges to other countries come Easter, but the season will likely see visitors from nearby markets such as Spain, as borders may well stay open between the two countries, unlike last year.
Further hopes are bolstered by the announcement that the MotoGP race will be held in Portimão on 18 April.
Fernandes said that the event is expected to bring in around €80 million in revenues for the local economy in terms of ticket sales, hotel bookings, food in restaurants, bars and cafés, and travel.
That said, it is still not known whether the race will be held behind closed doors like it did in November, or in front of a limited crowd.
Fernandes points to the important international exposure that the event provides.
“The MotoG is one of the biggest motorsports events in the world,” he said, stressing that official data from Doma Sports (which organises the championship) suggests that the races are seen in 428 million homes around the world.
Last year, Portugal’s Algarve region did manage to see some recovery for the sector as it was deemed one of the safest holiday destinations in Europe, thanks to low Covid-19 cases in the country as a whole and in the Algarve in particular, and partly thanks to the Government’s successful ‘Clean and Safe’ campaign whereby health inspectors, aided by online public feedback, showed how local hotels and eateries were abiding by a series of strict public health and hygiene measures.
And reports from major airlines Lufthansa and Transavia too showed that the Algarve, along with Greece, was one of the most popular destinations last summer.
The question now is that if this second major national lockdown decreed by the President of the Republic on Thursday – after frightening reports in the International press that Portugal now has the worst Covid infection rate in the world — will scare potential holidaymakers from making bookings.
Concludes João Fernandes, “This is a region where tourism is the driver of the economy and it was obviously the most affected sector, which has an effect on other sectors”.
The president of the ATA also said that the €800 million losses reported by the Algarve hotel association (AHETA) are likely much higher — possibly double — when taking into account all forms of tourist accommodation in the region.

Report based on article published in Dinheiro Vivo and the Algarve Resident