Summer surpasses expectations in the interior North


Tourism in the northern interior of the country has recorded "excellent" results with several accommodation units with "sold out" capacity in a summer when family getaways and vacations away from crowds are favoured due to the pandemic.

In Alto Minho, more precisely in Arcos de Valdevez, Rui Marinho, owner of accommodation units in the tourist village of Oussias, the summer of 2020 "surpassed", all the predictions, for a sector that, "first stepped on the brakes" and then, from May, and with the start to ease the lockdown "accelerated, full speed ahead". Currently with an occupancy rate of 100%, the owner says that they maintained the same results as the previous year and expect an "excellent" September.

In Vieira do Minho, a few kilometres to the south, the scenario is very similar with a sold out capacity for August, after a July with 90% occupation, according to Rafael Viana, owner of several local lodging units.

In the Douro region, the opening of hotel units, restaurants and wine stores has been happening gradually since May, but the results are quite encouraging since July. Cláudia Ferreira, tourism director of one of the region's characteristic quintas, revealed that the occupancy rate of the units is 100%, in August, having been around 90% in July. For September, the occupancy rate is currently around 60%, but it is expected to increase because of last minute reservations, another major trend in 2020. The biggest difficulty in the Douro region is felt in wine tourism, because of the drastic decrease of foreign tourists. "Although we are already beginning to see a foreigner here and there, 80% is domestic market", she pointed out.

In the interior of the Porto region, the results have also been positive. In the Amarante area, a hotel unit dedicated to wine tourism has sold out for August, after June at 55% and July at 77% occupation, mainly by Portuguese, some Spanish and French. The director of the unit mentions that the sector is proving to be "increasingly capable” to face the pandemic and believes that this is a "double opportunity" for the region, by allowing it to stand out from the rest of the country and make known, especially to the domestic market, a product that, although familiar, it does not know: the grape harvests.

Luís Pedro Martins, president of Turismo Porto e Norte de Portugal revealed, on August 5th, that the pandemic has reversed the numbers of tourism demand in the region. Most of the tourists, mainly domestic, are giving preference to the interior of the country. Rural tourism is the great driving force of this dynamic that has left the cities traditionally more popular, as is the case of Porto, with occupation rates inverse to the period before the pandemic. However, he stresses that, although occupation in the city of Porto is only around 30%, it corresponds to “twice the hotels in Lisbon".

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