In the absence of the promised provision of sites, rules and regulations for tourists visiting the Algarve in motorhomes the GNR have been busy inspecting and fining dozens of campers in Silves and Armação de Pêra.
In police moves that already are sweeping across social media and dedicated motorcaravanning websites, around 50 mortorhome owners have been fined for illegal camping or irregular parking.
The GNR also spotted the unlawful operation of a car park next to Armação de Pêra beach operated by the local football club which was charging for using space.
In Silves the two car parks often used by motorcaravan owners, one next to the municipal swimming pools and one by the cemetery, were also inspected and tourists fined.
A French 75-year-old was fined €30 because the GNR said his vehicle was occupying four parking spaces.
After the GNR had finished fining and warning tourists, most of them moved off for destinations unknown.
Last year motorcaravanners in Silves were moved on by police but then were enticed back by the local council whose retailers had complained that these off season tourists are good for trade.
At long last came the decision by regional bodies including the mayors’ talking shop AMAL that there should be a grand strategy to encourage this important off season trade.
A protocol was signed on January 21st, 2015 by representatives from the Commission for Coordination and Regional Development of the Algarve, the Intermunicipal Community of Algarve (AMAL), the Algarve Tourism Board and the Algarve Tourism Association.
This has led to zero change, improvement or information and motorcaranvanners can rightly claim bemusement as to what the rules are and where they are allowed to park when visiting the region.
Everyone had hoped that the earlier 2008 law (1320/2008 17 November) would regulate while encouraging this trade as it aimed to 'enable the creation of conditions for the establishment of a regional network of sites to host motorcaravanners.'
Over six years later this aim remains unfulfilled and in the intervening years the Algarve’s powers-that-be have fiddled around doing even less than their normal ‘as little as possible.’ Great at devising and announcing schemes, the suits as ever have failed when it comes to actually doing something positive and intelligent.
The 2015 protocol described ‘a new network spanning the region and providing spaces, encouraging onward travel across the region to be promoted within Portugal and abroad and compliant with territorial management, promoting respect for the environment and the safety and comfort of motorcaravanners and the image of the region’ but this has yet to be turned into any sort of activity, action or provision fo services.
Many locals rejoice in the punishment of these tourists, seeing them as scroungers and cheapskates but as many again do recognise that tourists come in different shapes and sizes and if properly regulated and catered for can boost off season tourism dramatically in a region dogged by the seasonal nature of the tourist trade.
The regional effort to do something has come to nothing and the police, in the absence of anything better to do, will continue to harass these tourists, many of whom will never return.