It’s been an interesting year for the Algarve’s tourism market. Despite a drop in overall tourist numbers, the region registered record occupancy rates earlier this year (read more here). And while the main concern was the drop in British tourists, due to a weaker pound, the collapse of travel operator Thomas Cook and possibly a looming Brexit, interest in the Algarve has been piqued elsewhere: the Americas.
In conversation with the Portuguese newspaper supplement Dinheiro Vivo, the president of the Algarve Regional Tourism Board (RTA), João Fernandes, spoke of the organisation’s focus on different markets, particularly North America.
“Canada is an operation that already existed and which has been reinforced. We now have direct flights to Toronto from January through to October. Typically they are long stays during the winter period,” he said. “We are making the most of the fact that the Canadians are in a commercial dispute with the U.S. and are reducing their demand for the Caribbean to reinforce our opportunity to bring Canadians to the Algarve even in the summer.”
According to João Fernandes, who recently returned from the World Travel Market, American and Brazilian tourists are also making their way to the Algarve as they become eager to discover Portugal. Many of them are looking for investment opportunities, and eventually to live and study in the country.
“Then we have the Italians, whose numbers are also growing, in a very similar way to what happened with the French, who come here in search of Non-Habitual Resident status. In the last three years, the increase of Italian residents – according to statistics from the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) – is 159% in the Algarve,” added the RTA president.
Despite concerns regarding the British market, João Fernandes notes that the Brits still represent an important slice of tourism in the Algarve. With visitor numbers set to surpass last year’s figures, the RTA president is confident that the British market is well on its way to recovery.