"Any dialogue you have with travel agents and hoteliers in the Algarve, if we think about June, July, August and September, we will be talking, at best, about 30% occupation or business level" estimated today, Pedro Costa Ferreira, president of the Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (APAVT), during a digital conference.
Ferreira pointed out that the number so far reveals “a 70% drop” in turnover in the Algarve, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, “something that had never been experienced as a company or region”, but, even so, “much better than the April prospects”. The APAVT head was speaking during the “Algarve no Horizonte - How the next bathing season will be” conference, organized by Ambitur magazine and which brought together several public and private entities in order to discuss how the Algarve is preparing for the ‘bathing season’ in the context of the pandemic.
Ferreira defended that this is a different crisis from any other, since “it is a disruption of supply and demand” and that “it will affect the regions of Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve much more” than elsewhere in the country. In the specific case of the Algarve, as it is “the region that most depends on tourism and international air bridges”, he stressed “the big challenge will be to maintain a reference structure for the Algarve's hotel and entertainment offer”, emphasizing that the Algarve “has to survive the crisis”.
For that, it will be necessary to involve all interested parties - businessmen, municipalities and the Government, in a process that, he argues, “should be led by the RTA [Algarve Tourism Board]” and in which “state support is essential”. With the beginning of the lack of the arrival of the first international flights to the Algarve region, the president of APAVT underlined that the first steps taken now “are essential to increase confidence and generate an increase in demand”.
Practically consensual among conference participants is the Algarve's dependence on "national tourists" for the summer ahead, but, for Pedro Costa Ferreira, "travel agencies are also dependent on Portugal".
The "lack of international mobility" and some "insecurity of national tourists" will make what, for some, are the usual holidays of Portuguese people instead happen within their home country and "this added value must be used by the Algarve", he stressed.
Defending the need to guarantee the fulfilment of the indications given by the health entities, the president of APAVT warned that "the rules must be complied with, but they must allow the enjoyment of the space".
Pedro Costa Ferreira also highlighted the "great dependence of Faro airport on summer travel" and that the weakening of some post-crisis airlines "may prove to be a problem".
The digital conference also included João Fernandes, president of RTA, Isilda Gomes, mayor of Portimão, Daniel do Adro, general director of Hotel Quinta do Lago and Isolete Correia, director of Vilamoura Marina.