Portugal is at an advantage in the sun and beach holiday market because it has safety conditions that no other country has. This advantage has been reflected in the explosion of Britons in the south of the country since the quarantine order was lifted for vaccinated citizens returning to the UK from Portugal or Spain. By now, there are about 35 million Britons with this condition. And the number is rising every day, as 160,000 Britons are getting their second dose every day. For most European tourists, the destination is the Algarve.
With the tourists, the foreign journalists have also arrived. The Algarve is once again in the limelight. Safety, sun and national gastronomy are among the main factors of attraction. But many foreigners also arrive here determined to buy a house.
On arrival at Faro airport, passengers will immediately receive a gift from the Algarve Tourism Board (RTA): a box with two coloured masks, a bottle of alcohol-gel and an information leaflet. The official tourism body also gives tourist operators two telephone numbers for visitors to use for any further information they may require. On the other end of the line there are employees of the Tourism Board. The RTA also made a survey with the Regional Health Administration of all the places able to test for covid-19: between laboratories, hotels and other spaces, there are now 126 places for testing. There are also hotels that have signed agreements with private laboratories so that the covid-19 test can be performed in the hotel unit itself. The health team goes to the hotel, makes the collection and takes care of all the procedures so that the tourist can return safely.
In any case, the Community portal reminds that all passengers must complete an online form, available here, and must also present a negative test for covid-19, printed or digital, which must be carried out within 72 hours prior to departure.
Foreigners fascinated by Portugal
Recently, the digital newspaper ECO published a report portraying and detailing the fascination of foreigners with Portugal, particularly with Porto and the Algarve. The sample does not focus on just one age group, nor does it tell a single-objective story. For the people heard by the newspaper, Portugal is the best country to spend holidays, but also to work and above all to live in.
The tone is unanimous: there are those who come on holiday and there are those who want to buy a house: a villa or a flat, preferably with sea view, to move to Portugal for good. The report demonstrates this, a trend that is illustrated with four different cases. "We've spent the last three years on holiday in Portugal. We usually start in Porto and stay most of the time in the Algarve," Carol Disberry told us. At 67, already retired, the Englishwoman says she always travels with her husband and sometimes brings friends. She arrives in Portugal at the beginning of December, where she never stays less than four months. "We like the Portuguese people and the food, the climate and the landscape."
In 2020, due to the pandemic, Carol Disberry, who had been in Portugal since January, had to adapt her plan: she stayed until July. This year, due to restrictions imposed by the British government, she had not yet travelled. So she applauded Boris Johnson's decision to allow Britons to travel abroad on tourism. "We intend to travel to Portugal in September. We will extend our stay to as long as our visa will allow us (the UK's exit from the European Union now requires a visa)."
Lee Hunting also told his story of falling in love with Portugal. He was only once in Albufeira, one of the world's most popular tourist resorts, and it was enough to make him want to return. "I'm arriving soon for a five-day break. I can't wait to enjoy some sun, sea and good food," said the construction businessman, who lives in Norwich, UK. And then he made a confession: "There is no place in the world we have enjoyed as much as Portugal". In the company of his wife, both 47, he says he feels totally safe. "We felt very safe in Portugal. We were very impressed with how the restrictions were imposed and how people complied with them. Unfortunately, the pandemic has delayed our plans to buy a house in Portugal. But the idea remains."
Security was also one of the factors that brought Andrew Brown to Portugal, where he has lived for five years now. "I wanted to change career and place. Moving to a different country seemed fun," recalls the 41-year-old English teacher, who already knows several Portuguese cities. "I love the wine, the climate, the landscape, the food (that we can buy) and the cuisine."
James Campbell ensures that he has also surrendered to Portugal. Passionate about the culture and the ease of the Portuguese, the Brit left Oxford in November last year. At 27, he has already set up his own mobile app development business. "I lived in London for five years before moving here. Portugal has a better quality of life today. But, of course, I left the UK because of Brexit."
This Brit, who praises Portugal for providing "a good balance between money and family life", believes the restrictions on non-essential UK travel have ended at the right time. And he too salutes the Portuguese government for the stance it has taken in fighting the pandemic.