Travel to and holidays in the Algarve: what can we look forward to?

Air travel restrictions will be partially relaxed in the coming weeks
Tourism travel likely to resume on more popular routes
In-flight social distancing may mean higher prices
For safety and security choose an AlmaVerde villa holiday

Beliche beach and cliffs, Sagres

Air travel is currently restricted to journeys deemed essential. This will be relaxed in the coming weeks, but with capacities cut to allow social distancing and with passengers likely to require masks.

Ryanair has extended its reduced service schedule until 14th May. They are operating emergency services from Dublin and from London Stansted to Lisbon, but not to Faro. Aircraft are regularly disinfected and passenger numbers on these flights are low. A “normal” schedule will not be resumed until 17th June at the earliest. The Jet2 flight schedule is also due to resume on 17th June.

Easyjet has currently grounded all aircraft, and will not be resuming flights until the end of May at the earliest.

BA is offering a voucher to re-schedule any flight booked with departure before 31st July. It has also announced plans for dramatic staff redundancies and a reduction or phasing out of services from Gatwick.

Tourism travel to resume

It is likely that tourism travel will resume earlier between the more popular European destinations. Tourism “corridors” are being considered to connect member countries least affected by COVID-19. Croatia, for example, has said that it will provide guests from the Czech Republic and Slovakia with special access to its beaches this summer.

Given this partial resumption, it is likely that:

  • With higher flight prices, the average traveller will be more affluent
  • Travellers will prefer less crowded destinations with a good record of limiting infection
  • Self-catering facilities will be preferred
  • A private pool and/or proximity to un-crowded beaches will be preferred

At the airport

Enforcing social distancing and hygiene will remain absolute priorities for airports, airlines, car rental companies and tourism destinations.

Use of automatic check-in terminals will be encouraged. Hand sanitising will be required both before and after security. Sanitising may well extend to both carry-on and checked baggage, with baggage handlers also wearing masks and gloves.

The check-in process will inevitably take longer. Passengers are likely to be screened, but the process will vary. Some airports are looking at infra-red temperature-taking, even though many infected people present as asymptomatic. Some are considering whole-body disinfecting devices. At Dubai airport, Emirates is offering passengers actual COVID-19 blood tests, with results within 10 minutes.

On board and on arrival

It is likely that both passengers, staff and flight personnel with be obliged to wear masks. American carriers have already announced compulsory mask wearing from embarkation to debarkation.  Some airlines are issuing flight attendants with full PPE.

The airline will have stepped up its hygiene and cleaning protocols, to include the sanitising of tray tables, armrest, safety belt and washrooms.

You won’t need to share an armrest, as middle seats will remain empty, at least in the early phase of relaxation, but losing a third of seats will squeeze airline operations and force price increases.

Similar airport distancing and hygiene procedures will also be in place on arrival. Car rental companies should have cleaning protocols to ensure that your car is suitably disinfected.

The Portuguese Hotel and Restaurant Association is developing a Code of Good Practice to ensure that hotels and other tourism lodging establishments observe appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Hotels may be required to limit occupancy in the same way as airlines and restaurants, ensuring for example that every other room remains unoccupied. Hotel swimming pools are unlikely to be opened this summer. Buffet meals will be replaced with a la carte, and with dining area capacity limited to comply with social distancing.

The benefits of a villa holiday at AlmaVerde

Portugal has outperformed all other major European countries in containing the outbreak (see last two blog articles).  Infection in the Algarve is well under control with no new infections in four of the past seven days (to 3rd May).

There have been no infections at all  in the most western Algarve municipalities of Vila do Bispo, Aljezur and Odemira. The only cases in Lagos have been the few that were transferred to the private hospital from other hospitals further east. AlmaVerde is situated in the municipality of Vila do Bispo.

AlmaVerde is situated at the gateway to the vast and sparsely populated Costa Vicentina Nature Park that encompasses 150 km. of coastline, from the nearest beach at Burgau, along the south coast to Cape St. Vincent and up the west coast as far as Sines. The beaches here are among the most beautiful, undeveloped and uncrowded in Europe, with plenty of space even at the height of a normal summer.

AlmaVerde itself is surrounded on three sides by rustic land, with no casual pedestrians, other than for other residents out walking their dogs or exercising.

Villas are set within private landscaped grounds, each with its own private pool and fully equipped kitchen. Detached villas are separated by a minimum of 10 metres from their neighbours.

Access to villas is controlled by key safe and alarm codes. There is no need for person-to-person check-in. Food and beverage hospitality packs can be ordered for arrival. Local supermarkets and a number of restaurants will also deliver. Reception will be open five days per week for concierge services, with staff wearing masks and observing hygiene protocols.

AlmaVerde will follow the hygiene guidelines for cleaning, sanitising and laundry handling set out by the Portuguese Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Prior to arrival, the villa will have been scrupulously cleaned and sanitised, and left empty for at least 18 hours. The clean bed linen and towels provided on arrival will have been freshly laundered using high temperature machines and will not previously have been used for a minimum of one week.

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