“The Regional Government, through the Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture, remains committed to helping Ukrainian and Russian tourists who remain in the region”, reads the information released in Madeira.

In the note, the executive adds that “the situations are always being monitored in line with the operators and their respective DMC (“destination management company”) in Madeira, as well as with the Regional Directorate for Communities and External Cooperation and the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF)”.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the closure of air spaces due to the conflict took 189 Ukrainian tourists and 220 Russians visiting Madeira by surprise.

About 80 Ukrainians left the region on Saturday in an operation involving a connection to an airport in Lithuania. The flight that was supposed to transport the 220 Russians back to Moscow on Sunday did not materialise.

Supporting tourists from both countries

On Friday, the president of the Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, declared that the region would support tourists of both nationalities and the Madeiran executive has taken steps on several fronts in this regard.

In the note distributed today, the Madeiran government emphasises that, despite being “different situations, it is attentive to the needs of the two groups of tourists”.

Cited in the document, the regional secretary, Eduardo Jesus, adds that “for any of the communities, the process goes through the SEF” - “in the case of Ukrainians who want to remain in Madeira, for requests for subsidiary protection, and, regarding Russians, for the extension of visas that are necessary for them to be able to travel back to their country of origin”.

Eduardo Jesus says that “many of the visas required for the trip are coming to an end”, but adds that “SEF is prepared to extend them, so that they can be used on the return trip”.

For a backlink solution, he indicates, “there are several solutions on the table, one of which is currently being analysed”.

“This is an operation that involves triangulation by other countries through which the connection to Russia can still be made and, in this way, create the possibility of the return of these around 200 tourists”, is also indicated in the note.

No response

The Regional Government expects “to have some more concrete information on this situation”, but stresses that, “for now, there is still no response from the Russian Embassy in Lisbon”.

“At the moment, Ukrainian citizens and Russian citizens are protected in Madeira by the Regional Government, which has contracted accommodation for both groups”, guarantees the official, noting that “70 Ukrainian tourists and 188 Russians” are involved in this.

Eduardo Jesus argues that “the situation must evolve in a logic of social support” through the mechanisms activated for this purpose, which represented the involvement of Social Security, through the Regional Secretariat for Social Inclusion and Citizenship in the process, to allow “the continuity of the protection of these people” and for “the best coordination of all those involved”.

“The Regional Government's objective remains to obtain, as quickly as possible, solutions for these citizens, not only for those who need to be welcomed locally, but also for those who want to return to their homes”.