After all, Russian tourists don't come there anymore

The Algarve will not have as many Russian tourists as it was anticipated, due to the cancellation of an agreement […]

The Algarve will not have as many Russian tourists as it was anticipated, due to the cancellation of an agreement that would be signed between Turismo de Portugal and the operator TUI Russia, which provided for the placement in the Algarve of around ten thousand tourists/year, from that market over the next three years.

This is bad news, in the view of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA), but it is seen with some naturalness by hoteliers, as this is not the first time that business has not been done. words with Russian operators.

Even so, not everything fell apart, in the East, as operator Natalie Tours maintains the operation it announced in February this year, at the 1st congress in Portugal of that tour operator, which is the leader in the Russian market, which took place at the Pestana Vila Sol hotel, near Vilamoura and brought together 270 Russian travel agents.

As for the reasons for the cancellation, there are different versions, although it seems certain that the initiative came from TUI Russia. The president of RTA Desidério Silva, speaking to the Sul Informação, points out the existing tension between Russia and Ukraine as the main factor for the agreement between Turismo de Portugal and the Russian operator, already outlined, to have been cancelled.

For the year, depending on the evolution of the political situation in Russia, "there will be another attempt at an agreement", which may involve an incentive on the part of Turismo de Portugal, for each tourist that the operator brings to our country. "There were also changes in the direction of TUI Russia, which complicated the situation," said Desidério Silva.

Already the operation of Natalie Tours, which announced that it would bring 15 thousand tourists in 2014, to the Algarve, will not have «as many flights (charter) as planned», but it will remain.

Elidérico Viegas, president of the Association of Hotels and Touristic Enterprises of the Algarve (AHETA), said, for his part, that TUI Russia took the decision "before the crisis in Ukraine", probably because "there was not the desired interest" on the part of the your customers.

“The impact will not be beyond that, as the Russian market is still not very important. But great expectations were created, which did not materialize," he illustrated. Elidérico Viegas recalled that «the Russian market has always been seen as having great potential, but it has never asserted itself for the Algarve», adding that this type of situation has been repeated «in recent years, regardless of good will».

There are many Russians who seem little interested in coming to the Algarve, but those who come spend more money than the average and even show themselves «satisfied with the experience».

For the president of AHETA, one of the factors that contribute to this apparent lack of interest is the "difficulty in granting visas to Portugal" for Russian citizens. "It is very difficult for a Russian to get a visa for Portugal, although it is very easy for other countries," he said.

A problem that the president of Tourism of Portugal João Cotrim de Figueiredo announced, in February, was "in the process of being resolved", since there would be a recent protocol with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provided for the reinforcement "as of May, of the embassy and consulate staff in charge of visas'.

The objective, he underlined, was “to be able to ensure a competitive broadcasting time, between 48 and 72 hours”. Elidérico Viegas, for his part, said that this is a problem that "successive Governments have promised to solve, but that no one has ever been able to alleviate."

Russians no longer come in such large numbers, namely the 25 tourists who were targeted, but there are those who compensate.

“Overall, there are companies that have increased their flights, namely from Germany and France”, so an increase in these markets is expected. "We believe that we can reach the end of the year with a better performance than last year", considered Desidério Silva, president of RTA.