Life & Leisure

Portuguese tourism left reeling as Brits rush home

Paula Fernandez

Lisbon, Jun 4 (EFE).- The British government’s decision to remove Portugal from its list of safe destinations has triggered a wave of hotel cancellations and a rush of tourists filling flights heading back to the United Kingdom.

It is a decision that has been met with incredulity and confusion in Portugal, especially in tourist hotspot regions like the Algarve that are heavily reliant on British tourists.

It was only three weeks ago that London placed Portugal on its ‘green’ list of countries, allowing people to holiday in the southern European nation without having to quarantine on their return.

Now, British travelers returning from Portugal will have to undergo three PCR tests — one before departure and two during quarantine in the UK.

“A decision whose logic is not understood,” said the Portuguese Foreign Ministry in the only official reaction from the Portuguese government so far.

The response in Portugal’s most affected region was more scathing: “It is clearly a political decision of the British government, which intends to unlock on June 21 and which had this strategy already planned”, the president of Algarve Tourism, João Fernandes, told Efe, who said that there are no scientific reasons to support London’s move.

The south of Portugal is already suffering the consequences.

“We have flight cancellations for the next three weeks, also in hotels,” says Fernandes, who does not have concrete data because cancellations continue to arrive every minute.

“The impact on bookings, especially in the Algarve, will be gigantic,” the president of the Portuguese Tourism Confederation, Francisco Calheiros, said in a statement.

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