The president of the Association of Hotels and Tourism Developments in the Algarve (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas, reacted to the decision announced by the British government, which forces passengers arriving from Portugal to comply with quarantine upon arrival in the UK, due to a positivity rate that has almost doubled since the last review in Portugal on 17 May, according to British Transport Minister Grant Shapps.
"Although it is unfair, it is bad news for us and this nevertheless negatively affects the good prospects we had for this summer, as, in addition to domestic market demand, we were having a very significant increase in bookings from the UK and that made us predict that we had a much better summer than last year," Elidérico Viegas told Lusa news agency.
The president of AHETA was "fully convinced" that "the situation can be reversed in three weeks, when it is analysed again by the British Government", but acknowledged that the news is "demotivating".
"Although no other competing destination has been included on the green list, the British can continue to come on holiday, now subject to restrictions on returning to the country, namely quarantine, but the truth is that this is demotivating for those who want to holiday abroad and is bound to have a negative impact on bookings and tourism demand," he added.
Elidérico Viegas regretted that the Algarve is "being penalised once again, not because it has indicators above those considered safe, but because the rest of the country, namely the Lisbon area, has an important number of infected and the so-called transmissibility index, known as RT.
"Our diplomacy could make efforts here, in the public interest of the region, but also of the country, so that the destination to which the British come preferentially, which is the Algarve, is safeguarded," appealed Elidérico Viegas.
Asked about the impact on bookings for the region, AHETA's chairman replied that "it has immediate effects of suspending bookings, cancellations for the next few days", but stressed that this trend "also occurs when it is positive, as happened on 17 May, with Portugal's inclusion on the green list".
Portugal's exit from the "green list" should take effect from 04:00 on Tuesday, when the country moves to the "yellow" list.
Countries on the "yellow list" are subject to tighter restrictions, including a 10-day quarantine on arrival in the UK and two PCR tests, on the second and eighth day, as is already the case for most European countries, such as Spain, France and Greece.
Portugal was until now the only European Union (EU) country on the "green list", which exempts travellers from quarantine on return to British territory, in force since 17 May. The list of safe destinations is thus reduced to 11 countries and territories, but most are quite far away or do not let in tourists, such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Falkland Islands, leaving Iceland as the most accessible destination.
According to the British media, the British government will not be adding any more countries to the "green list", notably Spain, which has removed entry requirements for Britons in the hope of boosting the tourism sector.