Coronavirus: Portugal hopes to open up to British tourists this summer

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

Portugal’s tourism industry is hoping to invite Britons to their country following the coronavirus outbreak.

At this time of the year, Praia da Rocha in the Algarve would normally be packed with tourists, many of those British.

Instead, there is vast empty stretches of sand and spiralling unemployment which has doubled, with 60 per cent of their economy gone.

João Fernandes, from Algarve Tourism Board, is hoping an airbridge connection can be established with the UK. This would mean tourists going both ways may not have to quarantine upon arrival.

He said: “You (Britain) are our main market. We are talking about last year for instance we had six million overnight stays. Each represents 40 per cent of our international demand.”

Restaurant owner Artur Cardoso says social distancing means he will not be able to serve as many customers. Credit: ITV News

Access to the beaches will be controlled, with one way system, social distancing and a limit on numbers to ensure the risk from Covid-19 is minimised.

The Portuguese government has been successful in its handling of the virus, and is desperate to keep new infections out.

Portugal’s Deputy Prime Minister told ITV News: “UK tourists have always been welcome in this country.

“We are discussing with the UK Foreign Office about the best way of having a seemly experience and I’m pretty confident that come summer time the British tourists will know they can travel safely.”

ITV Europe Editor James Mates had his temperature checked as he went through security at Lisbon airport. Credit: ITV News

Check are already being carried out at Lisbon airport, with ITV News Europe Editor James Mates having his temperature recorded as he walked through customs - more stringent measures, he says, than when he was leaving Heathrow.

There is a comprehensive programme of disinfection in place, and yet it seems they will let the British in this summer if the UK Government will co-operate.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know