“It is a decision that we regret and do not understand in light of the facts. We consider the decision to be deeply unfair and penalises the country in general and the Algarve in particular,” said João Fernandes, President of the Algarve Regional Tourism board.
He continued: “We were clearly penalised for speaking the truth. Is it safer to travel to countries that test half, or even a third, or prefer to vacation in a country that is truly committed to preserving public health and tourism?”
“A large number of British tourists come to the Algarve, a region that between July and September registers 68 percent of overnight stays coming from tourists from the United Kingdom in hotels in Portugal.”
The tourism boss noted that since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Algarve has registered only 1.5 percent of cases in the national territory (639 cases accumulated until the 2 July).
“This decision is a mistake by the British Government, which could have been avoided if it simply listened to the 18,000 British residents who live in the region and who can witness in first person the example set during the pandemic in Portugal.
“In May, Portugal was hailed in the UK as an example in responding to the pandemic. Since then, we have improved the rates of hospital admissions (-50%), deaths (-70%) and active cases (-45%).”
In the open letter, João Fernandes continues to outline that the National Tourism Authority has developed the first certification system for health protocols in tourism in the world, the “Clean & Safe” seal, with more than 17,000 certificates issued. Meanwhile, Turismo do Algarve developed a “Manual of Good Practices”, for several of the tourist activities, encompassing the procedures to be adopted for rent-a-car, golf, camping sites, marinas, beaches, surfing, water parks and restaurants, in addition to tourist accommodation, travel agencies and tourist entertainment companies.
He highlighted that: “Portugal is one of the countries that tests the population the most and has the lowest mortality rates”.
“Although quarantine on return is also mandatory until today, we have been witnessing a growing demand from the British market, since in mid-June flights to the United Kingdom resumed. For July and August we have flights available to 20 airports, operated by 5 airlines, attesting to the confidence of tourists and air operators in the Algarve”.
João Fernandes concluded: “All of these arguments have been widely expressed to the British Government. We will continue to work for the next revision of this measure to be favourable and for British tourists to continue to be very welcome in the Algarve, as they have been for the past 50 years.”