With Brexit promising to further impede Britons travelling overseas next year, Portugal is working on all kinds of ways it can ‘bring back the numbers’ to ‘save’ the nation’s tourism.
In a recent interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Portuguese ambassador to the UK Manuel Lobo Antunes said the country is preparing to “do whatever we can to continue to make Portugal attractive to British citizens, for tourism or permanent residence”.
Reasserting the ‘UK passport holder lines’ at airports and the health passports (devised to make up for the loss of the European Health Insurance Cards) (click here), Mr Antunes added the idea of ‘visa-free stays’.
According to rules coming in at the end of the transition period on December 31, a normal holiday in Europe for Britons will not require a visa – but a stay of more than 90 days will.
Portugal is looking at the possibility of extending that 90 days to 180.
Said Mr Antunes: “We have always said that we would like to have a situation that is as close as possible to the situation we had before Brexit.”
As the Telegraph explains: “Portugal relies on British holidaymakers. (They) are the country’s biggest single visitor group: 2.5 million travelled to Portugal in 2019.
This year, with quarantine restrictions and all the associated horrors of the pandemic, arrivals from the UK plummeted. Britons basically had just three weeks during the high season in which they could visit Portugal without having to quarantine for 14 days on their return.
Says the paper: right now “the country needs unimpeded movement between the two nations more than ever”.
But even with the arrival of vaccines the spectre of this is still some way in the distance.
Says the Telegraph, what Portugal needs is “successful implementation of the UK Government’s ‘test to release’ scheme”. This is the plan to test people flying home from a country without a ‘travel corridor’ after five-days in quarantine. If they test negative, they will be allowed back to their normal lives – without having to sit it out for the habitual 14 days.
The scheme is due to start operating on December 15.
Meantime diplomatic efforts are ongoing to swing the 180 day visa-free travel plan.
Stresses the Telegraph, this will help Brits who come to Portugal for the winters. Without it, if their stay in the country exceeded 90 days, they would technically have to register as a resident “and contend with the paperwork that entails”.
Luis Araujo, president of the National Tourism Board of Portugal told the paper Portugal basically is trying to inspire “alternative solutions for controlling the pandemic” which encourage tourism to flourish once again.
In the meantime, visitor numbers now are “back 25 years to the numbers of 1995, which is terrible especially because we have 10 times the number of companies than we had then…”
Source: Portugal Resident