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Rural Tourism Could be the Solution

President of the Rural Tourism and Housing Association (TURIHAB) believes that the best summer holiday solution this year is to have a staycation in the countryside.

“We think that rural tourism will peak this year, already people are interested in booking this type of holiday which could make rural properties 2020’s most sought after tourism accommodation. For Francisco de Calheiros, the reasons are apparent: rural houses are generally more isolated, attracting those wanting to get away from cities and towns.  It’s quieter, and with more space, it makes them attractive family holiday alternatives.

Despite recognising that rural tourism will become popular this year, the President of the Portuguese Federation of Rural Tourism (FPTR), Cândido Mendes, still believes that the internal market will not produce the eagerly anticipated revenues. Saying “At this moment, there is a timid increase in demand for rural houses for small families.

“Seasonality in rural tourism is extremely high. Generally speaking, companies earn money in the summer, only to make ends meet in the winter. The tourist regions of the country are all relying on the domestic market because there is no other. Still, the domestic market is not elastic and will decrease, because many families have lost their incomes and, therefore, the domestic market is not enough.”

However is rural properties are more attractive than rural hotels, the outlook is more discouraging, admits Cândido Mendes. “People are afraid to travel to more crowded places, so, rustic accommodation is attractive, this works in our favour.  But what is noticeable throughout the whole country is that fewer people are looking to stay in rural hotels.

According to the FPTR, practically all rural hotel companies have adhered to the “Clean & Safe” seal of Turismo de Portugal; they are currently making considerable investments to increase the safety of their customers and employees to reopen in June.”

The Association of Rural Hotels of Portugal (AHRP), of which Cândido Mendes is also a member, has already sent a letter to Turismo de Portugal to address concerns and ask specific measures such as extending the lay-off to the winter months and improve job maintenance support.

“If this sector does nothing, we will suffer a huge setback, which will cause great damage to local economies. It will be a complete catastrophe,” warned Cândido Mendes.

Francisco de Calheiros, also agrees that this segment of tourism has been overlooked by both official tourism and supervisory entities.

Samantha Gannon

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