In a statement, the British Ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty said: “We will be leaving the EU under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement: in other words, we are leaving with a deal.
“Last week the UK legislation needed to implement that deal was passed by the British Parliament and became law in the UK. This week the European Parliament also approved the Withdrawal Agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement is extremely important for British nationals living in Portugal. Because it protects – in international law – important rights that you have here such as: the right to continue to live and work in Portugal, the right to healthcare and the right to continue to receive benefits and your UK state pension.”
British nationals in Portugal need to be a resident in Portugal before the end of the year to have their rights protected and are still being advised by the Embassy to apply for the valid documents if they have not yet done so. Those planning to move to Portugal between now and the end of the year will have until June 2021 to register as a resident.
Chris Sainty added: “I know this was not the outcome that many of you hoped for. But I would make two points. First of all, as I have already said, the Withdrawal Agreement – an international treaty between the UK and the EU – offers very strong protection of your rights. It is good news that we are leaving with this deal. And secondly, as many of you have heard me say before, Portugal is an old friend and ally, and the Portuguese authorities have made clear many times that the British community here will always be welcome. That won’t change – in fact I am sure that the long-standing friendship and partnership between the UK and Portugal will continue to grow stronger in the years ahead.”
While the situation for British residents in Portugal may be resolved at least for the time being in Portugal, any possible negative impact of Brexit on the tourism market had been ruled out by both the Algarve Tourism Board (RTA) and the Algarve Association of Hotel and Tourist Developments (AHETA).
Elidérico Viegas, the president of AHETA told The Portugal News: “We think that any damage and uncertainties that may have been caused to the tourism industry in the Algarve by Brexit has already occurred and any further negative impacts are expected to residual.”
He explained: “The British market has always been the biggest supplier of tourists to the Algarve. This reality, in spite of some of the upheavals that have arisen since the beginning of contemporary tourism in the 60s, including more recently Brexit, were not enough to alter a commercial and tourist relationship over more than 50 years between the United Kingdom and the Algarve, and I have no doubt that this will remain and even increase in the future.”
An indicator that has been particularly positive for tourism in the Algarve has been the rise in the value of the pound since which Elidérico Viegas expects to continue in the future, helping to keep the Algarve a financially viable option for British tourists.
President of the RTA, João Fernandes, told The Portugal News that a combination of promotional campaigns to help encourage British tourists to the region and positive discrimination have helped to mitigate against any negative effects of Brexit.
“The latest data on British tourist demand in the Algarve, released by the National Statistics Institute (INE), and which refer to November 2019, show an accumulated growth of 7.2 percent of guests in tourist accommodation and an impact on overnight stays 2.5 percent higher than the same period in 2018.
He added: “I think that also contributing to this good performance is the fact that Portugal was the first country to define a contingency plan for Brexit, with very favourable positive discrimination measures, such as visa exemption, facilities for travelling with animals or even the non-increase in airport charges for passengers from the British market.
“This was further reinforced in promotional terms with the national campaign #Brelcome and the promotional reinforcement made by Turismo do Algarve in terms of the “Special Promotion Plan”, which has been running campaigns with tour operators, with Online Travel Agencies (OTA) and with airlines.”
Elidérico Viegas, the president of AHETA concluded: “Ultimately, and for the record, if Brexit is good for the British, it will be good for tourism in the Algarve as well”.
Any British nationals who have questions about living in Portugal are advised to follow the ‘Brits in Portugal’ Facebook page.