Published on : Thursday, May 14, 2020
With around 30 million tourists visiting Portugal every year, tourism in the country holds supreme significance with regard to job creation and economic growth. In spite of corona virus fears, tourism authorities are planning to reopen hotels and beaches by mid-June.
Portugal’s tourism officials said that there’s promise for the country’s travel sector and hundreds of thousands of people employed in the industry.
Joao Fernandes, the head of the Algarve regional tourism board, is quite sure that sun- and beach-seeking travelers from abroad will come back to the country’s prominent tourism hot spots once virus restrictions are eased in the middle of June.
“Not as many as in previous years, but tourists will be coming back,” said Fernandes. He added that domestic tourism officials and tour operators from abroad are already working on contingency plans to ensure “everything will be safe for them” amid the ongoing corona virus pandemic.
Tourism is not only a money and job generator for the Algarve, but for Portugal too, where 15% of gross domestic product (GDP) is created by the industry. Total visitor numbers have been growing increasingly in recent years, and this is supporting the country’s recovery from the 2008/2009 financial crisis, which brought Portugal to the edge of collapse.
Portugal’s all-encompassing lockdown measures imposed in mid-March have already affected the industry, which employs around 400,000 people in almost 100,000 mostly small and mid-sized businesses.
“We’ve come to a complete standstill,” says Daniela Tome, head of the Magnificat Tours travel agency. Many were forced to cut working hours for their staff canceling contracts with freelance guides and smaller firms they used to work with.
With the Portuguese government announcing gradual easing of anti-corona virus policies, including reopening hotels and restaurants in June, thousands of business owners are optimistic and praying that the tourists will return upon safety measures put in place by the industry.