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Portugal greets first UK vacationers as journey curbs lifted

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FARO: British holidaymakers returned to the sun-soaked seashores of Portugal on Monday, because the nation seeks to revive its battered tourism trade after lifting journey restrictions that had been imposed to curb Covid-19.

Britons are the largest contingent of vacationers in Portugal, a rustic whose economic system depends closely on international guests.

Portugal imposed a strict two-month lockdown earlier this yr to regulate a brand new wave of coronavirus infections. It lifted restrictions on guests from Britain and most European Union international locations from Monday.

Bea Wilkinson, a waitress from the northern English metropolis of Manchester, spoke of her delight to have arrived on the primary flight to Faro, on Portugal´s southern Algarve coast.

“I´ve been at home for five months. The restrictions were really hard, and there´s the constant rain,” mentioned Wilkinson, as she sat at a restaurant within the village of Alvor.

“With the pictures I posted, everybody at home will be coming here,” Wilkinson joked as a radiant solar shone and temperatures hit 30 levels Celsius.

Barry Thompson, a 63-year-old retired policeman from Manchester who landed in Faro along with his spouse and 11-year-old son, recalled good occasions within the area earlier than the pandemic.

“It´s nice to get away and be back here,” Thompson mentioned, 11 years after his first go to to the Algarve. “We´re very excited.”

Some 30 flights from the UK had been anticipated in Portugal on Monday, together with 17 taking round 5,500 passengers to Faro.

– ´Over the moon´ –

“We were desperate to come back. It´s fantastic,” mentioned Diane Healy, who owns a property in Lagos, a coastal city west of Faro.

“I´m over the moon. It´s wonderful to be back.”

The lifting of restrictions got here after London positioned Portugal on its “green list” of nations to go to with out having to self-isolate on returning dwelling.

1000’s of English soccer followers are additionally anticipated later this month for the Might 29 Champions League last between Manchester Metropolis and Chelsea in Porto.

Britons can now go to Portugal so long as they present a damaging PCR take a look at consequence for Covid-19 at most 72 hours earlier than boarding the aircraft.

Portugal and Britain presently have two of the bottom virus charges in Europe.

“Today is a special day because we are restarting the engine of our economy,” the pinnacle of tourism for the area, Joao Fernandes, advised AFP.

However close to Albufeira, which is common amongst many younger Britons for its seashores and night time life, Jorge Brito was extra cautious.

“There is a little hope, but I´m really afraid that everything will stop again,” mentioned Brito, who owns a restaurant on Oura seaside, together with an ice cream store and a grocery retailer.

On the seafront, solely about 20 folks could possibly be seen benefiting from the balmy climate and the turquoise sea.

Tourism plunged in Portugal final yr.

The nation noticed 16.4 million vacationers in 2019 earlier than the pandemic struck, and solely 1 / 4 of that in 2020.

The Algarve area, dwelling to 500,000 folks, greeted some 3.6 million international vacationers in 2019 alone, a 3rd of them from Britain.

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