British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented the governments road map out of lockdown to the British public on 22 February, which included the news about foreign travel, leading to a huge boost in bookings and enquiries, with Faro being one of the most sought after destinations.
According to a press release from easyJet, the low cost airline has seen UK bookings “surge” with “flight bookings for the summer season increasing by 337 percent and easyJet holidays bookings rising 630 percent in a week”. The company has reported “beach resorts among top destinations for this summer and travel in August, followed by July and September proving most popular, suggesting that Brits are keen to book a summer beach break to look forward to this year”.
Faro is among the top destinations for easyJet customers, along with Malaga, Alicante and Palma in Spain and the Greek island of Crete.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet said: “We have consistently seen that there is pent up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the Government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for”.
The positive forecast for the tourism industry has been reiterated by Jet2holidays who have also reported a 600 percent increase in bookings since the announcement with Portugal once again topping the list of destinations alongside Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. Meanwhile, the golf holiday booking website, The Golf Travel Centre, has reported a spike in requests for European golf holidays in June and July which could also bode well for the Algarve which is also renowned as one of the premier golfing destinations in Europe and the world.
While no hard and fast decisions have been made by the UK government regarding international travel, the announcement that a travel taskforce will reveal plans on 12 April to allow people to be able to “plan for summer” and the news that the earliest date for lifting restrictions will be 17 May has buoyed the industry in Portugal and beyond.
The travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) continues at this time to advise against all but essential travel to Portugal: “Flights between the UK and Portugal (including the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores) are currently suspended. Visitors who have been in or transited through Portugal (including the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores) in the previous 10 days cannot enter England.
“British and Irish nationals, and third country nationals with residence rights in the UK arriving in England from Portugal will be required to quarantine in a hotel Different rules apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. UK nationals in Portugal who wish to return to the UK will have to travel via other airports.”
Meanwhile, the president of the Business Association of the Algarve Region (NERA) has said that tourism “has a future”, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that entrepreneurs should try to “resist” and maintain business activity until the resumption of tourism arrives.
Speaking to Lusa, Vítor Neto said that the most optimistic recovery scenarios have not been verified and companies should take into account the different scenarios on the prospects of economic recovery to ensure that their companies remain active until then.
Vítor Neto stated that the pandemic has been “serious and has not only affected companies more directly related to tourism, such as accommodation and restaurants”, but it is also affecting “a group of companies that also provide goods and services and catering services”.
The president of NERA concluded with an appeal to the tourism businesses of the Algarve to show their “resistance against the struggle” and to maintain their businesses until the recovery is a reality in the tourist sector. The news that the British market, which has traditionally been the main country of origin for foreign tourist to the region, must give these businesses further optimism for the summer.