COVID-19: FACING “SEA OF UNCERTAINTIES” DESTINATION MADEIRA BETS ON THE RESUMPTION OF CONFIDENCE
The tourist destination Madeira currently lives “in a sea of uncertainties”, with no forecast of reopening, but there are already preparations to start safely, with a big bet on the national market, according to the region’s Tourism Secretary.
“We are preparing everything so that, when there is a feeling of comfort regarding the control of the pandemic, we can be in a position to start immediately”, declares to the Lusa Eduardo Jesus agency, questioned about the predictions of the reopening of what is the Best Island Destination in the world. World, as indicated in the World Travel Awards.
Tourism is one of the main sectors of Madeira’s economic activity, but the pandemic has completely changed the landscape of the region: there are no more tourists to walk around, the few passengers arriving by plane have to stay in isolation and the port of Funchal and hotels are closed, as well as all related activities. Most residents are confined to their homes and the streets are almost deserted.
All tourist poster programs scheduled between spring and summer, such as the Flower Festival, arraiais (popular festivals) and musical events were postponed or canceled.
In 2019, Madeira recorded an average hotel occupancy rate of 67% in the summer months (between July and September), with a total of 153,919 guests in July, 168,605 and August and 149,738 in September. The national market represented around 25% of visitors.
Currently, with the sector at a standstill, tourism has recorded, according to the president of the Regional Government, Miguel Albuquerque, a loss of revenue of 112 million euros per month.
On March 12, before the declaration of a state of emergency, the president of the Tourism Bureau of the Algarve Commercial and Industrial Association, António Jardim Fernandes, said that the sector was suffering “severely” the consequences of the covid pandemic. -19, with breaks in the order of 40%.
Now, the regional secretary of Tourism underlines that “the opening of the destination will happen when the confidence of those who travel and of those who receive them is resumed”, stressing that “there must be a commitment of both parties: of the destination, but also, and above everything, the origin ”.
In practice, “it will be a different opening, depending on the installed capacities” and in a “gradual” way, because the objective is “to be consistent”.
“Trust must be established, through the adoption of a wide range of procedures that have to do with measures that stabilize confidence levels across the board, from air transport to tourist accommodation, also passing through other components of the sector such as airport infrastructure and tourist entertainment, ”says the government official.
The Madeiran executive has been working to support the sector, which will also benefit from a line of 100 million euros.
Eduardo Jesus ensures that the Regional Government “is working” and has already met with the hotel sector.
“The promotion of the destination Madeira has long been adapted to the new reality”, with campaigns promoted by the Madeira Promotion Association (APM), which convey the message “Stay at home” for now, but make people dream about the region, “keeping the destination of Madeira in the minds of those confined to their homes”.
Even so, he stresses, there is a “notion that things have to change” and that “as soon as nothing will be as before”, because there is a “need to wear masks and practice safety behaviors”, a novelty that has of “being incorporated and admitted as normal”. This is, therefore, “an exercise in the field of attitude and behavior”.
In the reopening of the destination, “in a first line, the national market appears, due to its proximity and greater confidence” and because “it will be the one that will best respond to the appeal”. This funding goes through “a series of operations that were already consolidated for the summer of this year, but will have to be changed, pending the appropriate time for this to happen”.
“And then, let’s see how our traditional markets are doing, because we are aware of their importance”, says the secretary, maintaining that the main objective is that “there is security in the sending markets so that tourists can travel to Madeira” .
On Monday, the Madeira Promotion Association (APM) approved the launch of a certification process for “good practices in the management of biological risks”, in an attempt to restore confidence to tourists.
“This certification will cover companies in the tourism sector, such as hotels, rural tourism and local accommodation, restaurants, travel agencies, tourist entertainment and transportation of people, rent-a-car and offices or other official tourism establishments. “, said the organization, adding that” the project starts to take shape this April and, in early May, a ‘webinar’ [online seminar] is planned for members, where APM will present the project , the form of participation and also explain how the certification process will be “.
The certification process should start in July and will have the capacity to certify between 150 and 160 companies per month.