Award winning Lagos Marina far more than just a port in a storm!

Expats or second home-owners looking for somewhere special to keep their boat on the Algarve should head to the popular resort of Lagos, now that the marina there has become the only marina in Portugal to be awarded five stars by the highly regarded International Maritime Certification Institute (IMCI).

Lagos Marina joins only eight other marinas across the whole of Europe to have achieved a five-star rating under the IMCI’s Blue Star Marina programme, and two others on the Iberian Peninsula. To receive five stars, marinas are assessed on more than 100 criteria.

A decade old next year, Lagos Marina has already won the Euromarina Anchor Award, and has been awarded the European Blue Flag and The Yacht Association’s 5 Gold Anchors. It has a recommended sailing academy and club, a selection of shopping and leisure amenities and hosts events and exhibitions. The Marina Club resort also offers tourist accommodation, with a restaurant, bars and a spa available.

The Blue Star Marina programme was born out of the need for an international quality standard specifically for marinas. Its quality control standards were put in place to help both the boating tourists and marina operators. Independent non-profit association the International Marine Certification Institute (IMCI) owns the programme.

Lagos Marina is a prime real estate location, with a selection of waterside apartment developments to choose from. These include The Factory, a condominium development that blends the already existing factory structure with the implementation of new, modern apartment blocks.

Portugal’s appeal as strong as ever as tourism numbers up on last year

Foreign tourists are flooding back to enjoy the Algarve’s pretty beaches, immaculate golf courses and welcoming resorts in numbers similar to those recorded before the economic downturn, according to recent statistics.

The Bank of Portugal confirmed in August that total revenue generated from tourism in Portugal between January and May this year reached €2.95 billion, representing an increase of 7.9 per cent compared to last year and similar to the figure for 2007.

Meanwhile, according to Portugal’s National Statistics Institute there was an 8.6 per cent increase in the number of overnight stays in tourist accommodation in June 2013 compared with the same month last year. The total number of stays in June 2013 was 4.4 million.

Non-residents accounted for 70 per cent of overnight stays in June, with British tourists forming the largest group of foreign nationals (27 per cent). That said, the highest year-on-year increase in overnight stays by nation during June was recorded by Ireland (+25.9 per cent), then France (+17.6 per cent) and Brazil (+10.9 per cent).

In line with the Bank of Portugal’s figures, tourist accommodation establishments accounted for €207.2 million in total revenue and €144.6 million in revenue from accommodation alone. These results corresponded to year-on-year increases of 10.7 per cent and 12.2 per cent, respectively. In the period January to June 2013, the trend revenue was equally positive, but at a lower rate, namely +4.9 per cent for total revenue and +6.9 per cent for accommodation only.

Great properties and smiles – what’s not to like about Portugal?

Portugal’s appeal to second homeowners goes beyond desirable property and its fantastic lifestyle – the people there are officially very friendly to foreigners!

Portugal is the seventh friendliest country in the world towards tourists, thanks to its hospitality and warm-hearted people, according to a report by the World Economic Forum. The ‘The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013’ analyses 140 economies worldwide, assessing the competitiveness of each for travel and tourism, and the influence that these industries have upon the country’s economy.

In the report’s rankings for “Attitude of population toward foreign visitors”, Portugal comes a proud seventh place, behind Senegal
(6th position), Austria (5th position) and Macedonia (4th position). The top three spots for this category go to Icelanders in first place, followed by New Zealanders and then Moroccans. Portugal was 20th in the reports overall index.

Desidério Silva, President of the Algarve Tourism Board, told the Algarve Resident paper that this favourable position is the outcome of “the tourism industry’s approach to visitors’ needs and requests. We are hospitable people and have products of high quality in all aspects of tourism, from natural beauty, warm climate, unique cuisine and culture and heritage features, which represent important key factors for tourism appeal. All of these characteristics are particularly evident in the Algarve”.

To grow its tourism offering, Mr Silva believes that Portugal needs to promote itself in traditional markets, while keeping an eye on emerging markets. To boost its competitiveness, he also suggested lowering IVA in restaurants and golf, and removing toll charges on the A22  motorway.

Air passenger numbers up as Portugal draws foreign tourists

Foreigners are flocking back to Portugal, if figures from the country’s national carrier are anything to go by.

Airline TAP recorded its best day ever for operations on 28th July, it said in a recent statement, carrying a total of 38,674 passengers, which represented an occupation rate of 90 per cent in the Portuguese airline’s overall network. TAP also confirmed that it recorded traffic growth of 4.8 per cent in the first six months of 2013.

The following countries were especially important to TAP’s growth: the Unites States, with an occupation rate of 96 per cent, Brazil with 93 per cent, Venezuela with 92 per cent and Europe with 88 per cent. Significant levels of passengers were also recorded in the Autonomous regions of Portugal, which had an occupation rate of 83 per cent.

During the first half of 2013, sales in Portugal represented 25 per cent of the airline’s total sales, meaning 75 per cent were made in international markets, reaffirming TAP’s contribution to the Portuguese tourist market.

Meanwhile, TAP has increased the number of flights it operates between Gatwick and Lisbon as part of their 2013 winter schedule. TAP will now operate 11 flights per week between the two airports, kicking off on October 27th and running until March 29th.

Combined with the airline’s existing services from Heathrow, TAP customers will now have more choice than ever before when travelling between the two cities. This will also further expand TAP’s connections, via Lisbon, to 75 destinations in 35 countries worldwide including Africa and North and South America.