Portugal hopes successful Covid response can aid tourism revival

By Paula Fernández

Lisbon, May 9 (efe-epa).- A destination that successfully overcame the Covid-19 pandemic and can offer tourists a secure vacation location, this is the aim of Portuguese authorities as part of its efforts to get the economy back on its feet.

There is no doubt as to the enormous damage the coronavirus has dealt to the sector. The number of international tourists has dropped 40 percent since the beginning of the crisis, according to a study by Oxford Economics, and hotels in Portugal are braced for a 50 percent fall in income this year.

But the tourism sector in Portugal, which accounts for 16 percent of the national GDP, is confident in the country’s ability to set an example and open its doors to visitors once again from June thanks to the government’s handling of the situation.

“Nowadays, due to our capacity to prevent and fight Covid-19, we are being regarded as an international example,” João Fernandes, president of the Algarve regional tourism board told Efe.

Portugal has been able to put the brakes on the contagion better than its neighbors. Some 1,100 people have died from the Covid-19 disease and there have been 27,000 confirmed cases, much less than in Spain, Italy and France.

Authorities therefore hope that international travellers will look to the Atlantic nation as a safe spot for a vacation.

“Portugal could have an advantage in terms of tourism. As we were less affected, foreigners might want to come to Portugal as they feel safer here than in other countries,” PLMJ lawyer and investment expert Diogo Perestrelo told Efe.

Making tourists feel safe in Portugal will be key to relaunching the sector, especially during summer, when travel will still be limited given the lack of vaccine or effective treatment for the coronavirus.

Luís Araújo, president of Portugal’s national tourist entity, said: “Our rule these months is to inspire responsibility and confidence.”

While the lockdown holds, authorities want to prepare tourism infrastructure in the country so it is ready.

They are providing online courses for Portuguese companies and have boosted communication with travel agencies, keeping them updated with the situation and the latest hygiene rules.

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