The lifting of the quarantine imposed on travellers from Portugal is being considered a “step forward” for tourism and the Algarve hotel industry is “hopeful” regarding the impact of the measure on reservations, according to the main regional hotel association.
“The measure is yet another step towards lifting restrictions, which in practice have impeded and continue to impede travel, and we are somewhat expectant about the impact this could have on increased demand from British tourists,” said the president of the Association of Hotels and Touristic Enterprises of the Algarve (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas.
The association leader said that it is “still too soon” to know how this measure will impact demand, because, he recalled, “some of the previous restrictions continue to be maintained, namely the requirement, two days after returning to the United Kingdom, to do a PCR test”.
“Our country has not yet lifted restrictions on the entry of British tourists with two doses of the vaccine, which is a pity, and it is still required to have a test to enter Portugal”, said Elidérico Viegas.
“Our estimations point to us having an occupancy level in the months of July and August that could potentially be around 60 percent, still far from the usual 100 percent that occurred before the pandemic”, he said.
The president of AHETA stressed that these predicted occupancy rates are “more or less identical” to last year and lamented that “predictions of having a much better summer than last year” are being “compromised by the restrictions that continue to be to be announced and by the recommendations of countries that are very important in the tourist demand of the region, such as Germany, Holland and Ireland”.
“And we are somewhat curious to know what the real impact of lifting these restrictions on the increase in demand by British tourists will be”, he reiterated, recalling that the United Kingdom is the main source of tourists to the Algarve.
AHETA considers though that these latest measures from England to be “a positive measure” and hopes that “it can contribute to increasing demand from British tourists”, because “any positive impact on this market will soon have an impact on occupancy rates and on the economic results of tourism companies”.
“I think the whole world has realised that we are going to have to deal with the pandemic and we have to find different solutions from those we have found so far, because it is not possible to lockdown, ease lockdown and lockdown again consistently. This brings very high losses and, to a great extent, these measures or restrictions in slowing the pandemic are also often contradictory and even show dubious effectiveness,” he said.
Elidérico Viegas therefore asked the ‘competent entities around the world and in Portugal’ to ‘take measures to reconcile the fight against the pandemic, while getting the world back to work”, because “continuing to fight the pandemic by stopping the economy” is resulting in a “disaster that can cause bigger problems than the pandemic itself”.
On 19 July, England lifted almost all restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, including the mandatory use of masks in most situations.
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, justified the decision with the success of the vaccination programme in the country - two thirds of adults have both doses - which has reduced serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths, thus removing the risk of overloading the health system.