Lisbon, Aug 1 (EFE) .- At the equator of the best season of the year, Portuguese tourism struggles to alleviate the coup of the covid, with no major illusions: the balance will be the worst that is remembered, especially in Lisbon and the Algarve. , where they show great caution with an eventual comeback in August and focus on resisting.
Tourism, one of the main locomotives that allowed the recovery of the Portuguese economy in recent years, is also one of the sectors that most accuses the hit of the pandemic.
The most recent data, until spring, give an advance of the impact: between January and May, Portugal had tourist revenues of up to 3,000 million euros, its worst figure since 2013, and which, compared to the same period in 2019, represents a collapse 47%.
Hope was pinned in the summer, with the general reopening of borders, but the fact that the United Kingdom, Portugal’s main market, put Portuguese destinations on the list of places that forced the British to quarantine plunged regions like the Algarve in anxiety.
In this area, strongly supported by tourism, the registered unemployed have increased by 231.8% in June, the beginning of the big era, according to data from the Portuguese Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP), and Lisbon is also suffering especially.
The capital, which this month hosts the final phase of the soccer Champions League, was severely affected in its image when, at the beginning of July, the “general duty of recollection” was decreed at home in 19 parishes – one step organ below the town councils in the region due to the increase in outbreaks.
Only one of the parishes belonged to the city of Lisbon, but the perception was different. Although tourists return timidly, the scenario, sector sources tell Efe, is extremely volatile in a country that in 2019 was still on the rise, receiving 24 million tourists.
UNCERTAINTY, KEY WORD
“It is uncertain, because many reservations arrive every day, but many cancellations also arrive every day. Today there is a volatility in reservations that did not exist months ago, and does not allow us to anticipate with much certainty the occupancy rate,” he explains to The Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal, Rita Marques.
Marques admits that the forecast for the year as a whole is “a contraction of tourist income of the order of 50%”, a severe blow after having had in 2019 income “greater than 18,000 million euros”.
After seeing the data until May, he concludes that “if the situation evolves as we expect, we are not going to recover this 47% contraction”, fully giving the GDP, which, Marques points out, may have a fall of “about 9%” at the end of this year.
As a whole, tourism-related income amounts to 14% of Portuguese GDP, so concern was triggered by the decision of the United Kingdom, a country that traditionally represents 19% of overnight stays in Portugal.
ANXIETY IN THE ALGARVE
“How is the summer going in the Algarve? It is not going,” says bluntly to Efe the president of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises of the Algarve (Aheta), Elidérico Viegas.
Viegas notes that the falls within the association were “50% in March, 100% in April and May, and 90% in June.” By July, it estimates that, in general terms, there will be a decrease of “between 60 and 70%”; in August “from 50-60%”, and in September “from 60 to 70%”.
“Our summer season this year is worse than the low season that ended in March, and soon we will face another low season,” sums up the head of Aheta, from where they are waiting “with some anxiety” for a specific government plan for Algarve tourism.
At the moment, they resist with the internal market, always numerous in August, although the Portuguese reserves have also fallen and, in any case, they have tourism preferences -many of them with second residences- that will not necessarily help the group of hospitality.
And yet, again uncertainty: A study by the consumer association Deco with 1,000 people revealed that respondents have canceled vacations this year.
THE CHAMPIONS, AN OXYGEN BALLOON FOR LISBON
In Lisbon, the forecast is for the drop to be close to 70% this summer, despite the Champions League, says the General Director of Tourism of Lisbon, Vítor Costa.
“Everyone who works in tourism knows that 2020 is a lousy year, it is the worst year we have ever known,” he says, stressing that it would be “illusory” to think of a recovery.
“The question now is how to manage to survive for later, especially from the moment there is a vaccine, or effective treatment for the coronavirus, we will always live in a situation of uncertainty,” says Costa, who sees the impact of the Champions League. , estimated at 50 million euros, just like “an oxygen balloon”.
“The main impact of this event is the opportunity we have to show Lisbon internationally,” he says, which “is a turning point in that sense, in taking up again in terms of international recognition, reputation” of the city.
Cynthia de Benito
(c) EFE Agency