'Reuters': Without Britons in high season, Algarve struggles for survival

To date, only 92 Britons have arrived in the region, a figure far from what was recorded in previous years, when close to two million Britons filled the Algarve's restaurants, hotels and sands.

The Portuguese who move to the Algarve in the summer already know that they will hear more English than Portuguese, showing the predominance that British culture has in the region, especially during holidays. In a report that took pulse of business in the Algarve, “Reuters” denotes the difficulty in doing business, which is explained mainly by the lack of tourists.

Samuel Tilley owns a pub in the Algarve and his business has been almost at a standstill, affecting revenue at the end of the month. He tells Reuters that Tilley is furious with British rules to define the list of safe countries, because these rules keep tourists away and for “further compromising the already gloomy summer season” of 2020.

Vilamoura was one of the areas visited by “Reuters” journalists, where Samuel Tilley's pub is located. “It was very shocking. I do not believe that there is logic behind this decision ”, said the owner, speaking of the decision to leave mainland Portugal out of the air corridors. "There are magnificent people here in the Algarve and I think this decision by the British government has hurt them," continued Tilley.

Currently, the Algarve has been visited by Portuguese people due to good weather and unusually low prices for this time of year. But last year, when the pandemic did not yet threaten tourism, Portugal received close to two million Britons, with 64% of Britons heading directly to the Algarve due to the famous beaches and good weather. To date, only 92 Britons have arrived in the region, a figure far from what was recorded in previous years.

Between June and August, many British citizens arrive in Portugal, with the Algarve as their preferred destination. Annually, the British are responsible for close to 3,2 billion euros for the Portuguese economy, taking advantage of the gastronomy and guided tours, and many businesses created are aimed at this period of the year.

To “Reuters”, the president of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises of the Algarve (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas pointed out that “obviously, part of the damage cannot be reversed” and that “many people have chosen other destinations” to which the United Kingdom it did not impose mandatory quarantine.

To date, hotels in the Algarve have an occupancy rate close to 40%, and without the effects of the pandemic, they should already be full. The number of unemployed in the region also grew 231% compared to the same period last year, increasing from eight thousand to more than 26 thousand unemployed, since many depended on seasonal jobs.

United Kingdom reevaluates Portugal on July 27

Next Monday, July 27, the United Kingdom will announce more countries for which there is no need for mandatory quarantine, and the newspaper “The Times” announced this Thursday, July 23, that Portugal should be part of the list.

According to the British newspaper, London is expected to yield to "the powerful pressure" of the Portuguese Executive, which had already considered the exclusion of the national territory (except for the Azores and Madeira) as "absurd and wrong", revealing a possible collision in bilateral relations among the oldest allies in the world.

The list of 75 countries and territories should not be changed in any way, but "it is expected that trips without quarantine to Portugal are allowed", said The Times.

However, the decision should be different. A source from the British Ministry of Transport admitted to “The Telegraph” that the lifting of restrictions to Portugal will be done through regional corridors, encompassing the Algarve with Madeira and the Azores, leaving out Lisbon, which has presented more active cases.

“Regional air bridges are an option for countries with localized outbreaks,” a source from the Ministry of Transport told “The Telegraph” on Wednesday, referring to difficulties in the United States, which could remain quarantined for many months if the quarantine apply at national level.

In "The Times", travel consultant Paul Charles admitted the possibility of Portugal being added to the new list where quarantine is not required. "Portugal already lost British tourists in July and there will be absolute turmoil if it also loses in August," said the consultant to the publication.

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