The Algarve in southern Portugal has said it will be open for tourists this summer and seeks to welcome international visitors once travel restrictions are lifted.
João Fernandes, president of Algarve Tourism, commented: “The country was quick to adopt preventive measures and extensive testing at an early stage to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, and as a result we have had much fewer cases than other European countries.
“Furthermore, the Algarve is one of the least affected regions in Portugal, and so we are now in a position to carefully plan a gradual reopening of its economic and social activity.”
The region has seen 360 Covid-19 cases since January.
The European Commission unveiled its plans to resuscitate tourism earlier this week, with plans to gradually reopen the market over the coming months.
In the Algarve, golf courses, marinas and car hire businesses are already open – although with strict health protocols.
Over a third of the hotels in the region are open, with authorities hoping to have 75 per cent open by next month and the balance by July.
Beaches will open in June, with health regulations and procedures in place, while restaurants will open on May 18th with 50 per cent capacity restrictions.
Fernandes added: “As a result of a large effort by the national authorities, public and private sector agents in the region to define the best practices in terms of safety and security, the Algarve is ready to restart its tourist activity.
“Sector agents in the region are strongly committed to reopening their businesses in a gradual, responsible and safe manner.”
Rules are being defined for the access of beaches, which will be issued by the Portuguese Environment Agency shortly.
They will allow the use of these space, while guaranteeing safety for visitors and workers.
Visitors will find measures in place at Faro International Airport on arrival which aim to ensure the protection of passengers and staff.
Public transport is subject to measures that isolate drivers from contact with passengers and the use of masks is mandatory for everyone.
The question of the reopening of borders and the resumption of air traffic is the main factor that remains undefined and that prevents the return of tourist activity in full.
“This is an issue that obviously affects many countries, not just Algarve.
“All major European tourist destinations are keenly awaiting the EU guidelines on this matter.
“However, the Algarve has received some positive signs.
“Several international airlines and tour operators are showing great interest in restarting their operations to the region, some of which already have information on their websites and are taking holiday reservations,” concluded Fernandes.
The Algarve is considered Europe’s Leading Beach Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards.