The president of Turismo do Algarve, João Fernandes, today classified the decision of the United Kingdom to remove Portugal from the “green list” of travel as “political”, meaning quarantine for those who arrive in British territory from Tuesday 8th June.
“It is a decision that the British Government took as a matter of internal policy and not as a matter of risk”, he said, stressing that the justification given by the UK authorities “does not use Portugal as a reference” for covid-19 infections, and even Malta, “which has an incidence of nine cases per 100,000 inhabitants, was left out” of the “green list”.
João Fernandes acknowledged that the British decision “has a clear impact on the region”, as the United Kingdom is the “main source market” of tourists to the Algarve, and regretted the “embarrassment” that the measure causes, “from the outset for those who are already here and are scheduled to return after Tuesday, which is the day from which this measure takes effect”.
“We are already witnessing a concentration of repatriation flights and a cancellation of flights for the subsequent period, and of hotel reservations as well. We hope that this measure is reviewed as soon as possible, because it is completely unfair”, he said.
João Fernandes also said that the Algarve had “100,000 passengers arrive, of British origin, during the last two weeks” and that, according to data provided by the Regional Health Administration among British passengers, “there were only a six cases recorded – and all of them are tested”.
“Six cases per 100,000 inhabitants is a much lower number than that registered in the United Kingdom itself, not least because the British, before travelling to Portugal, have to take a PCR [test]”, he added.
Now, he said, the region must “look forward and continue to bet on other markets that are in good demand in the Algarve, such as the German, French, Irish Spanish, Dutch markets”, which are “recognising Portugal as a safe destination and the best beach destination in the world, according to the latest recognition from the World Travel Awards”.
The representative considers that Portugal can return to the "green list" in the next re-evaluation of the British Government, within about three weeks.
"Even clearly being a political decision, the British Government aim to conclude their deconfinement process by June 21st, so it makes sense that this review will be favourable to an opening to several countries, including Portugal", he argued.
João Fernandes also gave a warning to British tourists who "are now returning in a hurry", that they must carry out a Covid test before travel, using the approximately 130 covid-19 testing sites identified on the website www.visitalgarve.pt, and to make sure they are aware of the controls in place to enter UK.
The decision to withdraw Portugal from the “green list” comes just three weeks after the British Government took a decision in the opposite direction, creating positive expectations in the Algarve and national tourism, which have now been dashed.
Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/