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Algarve tourism chief slams Galp-ENI oil drilling licence

4828The Algarve Tourist Board’s president today issued a strong statement against the January 11th licensing of oil drilling for Galp-ENI off the west coast.

Desidério Silva stated the tourist board’s position was one of "firm rejection and deep discontent" with the government decision to authorise the test well.

The licence allows the Galp-ENI consortium to drill a 3km deep borehole in the seabed between the Algarve and the Alentejo, 46.5 km from the Aljezur coast.

"This is a decision that seriously affects the future of tourism in the region, putting at risk the ecological and environmental balance in the face of the possible advance of a highly polluting and dangerous activity," Desidério Silva said in his forthright statement.

Silva added that "in a region that is increasingly popular for nature tourism, with a range of beaches that currently is among the best in the world, the decision to authorise the exploration for hydrocarbons clearly is an attack on the Algarve brand and its value to the country's economy."

The tourism sector is now the main exporter of goods and services in the Portuguese economy, with tourism revenues generated in the Algarve accounting for around 50% of total revenues, noted the statement.

"It is this valuable asset that is now in danger and the Algarve Tourist Board will do everything so that it is not destroyed," said Desidério Silva.

The tourism chief added that the decision was "surprising" after the government decided to rescind the Algarve exploration and extraction contracts held by Portfuel and the Repsol-Partex consortium in the Algarve.

"Everything indicated then that the plans for the installation of an industry, that would be highly prejudicial to Algarve tourism, had definitively been annulled. Obviously, the Algarve's citizens were mistaken, as have been businesses operating in the region and other entities that have been protesting against the advance of this industry," says Desidério Silva.

In conclusion, the Algarve Tourist Board hopes that the licensing decision swiftly will be reversed.

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