Vilamoura’s ‘inland waterway’ development gets the go-ahead

Vilamoura’s future as a desirable hot spot in the Algarve was confirmed in April after the Portuguese Government gave the green light to a huge billion-euro project between Vilamoura Marina and the village of Açoteias in Albufeira.

Called Cidade Lacustre, which translates as Lakeside Town, the development will see a network of canals, lakes and lagoons linking various residential, commercial and tourist properties. According to a report, some homeowners will have the option to sail their boats practically to their front door, as at least 150 of the properties will come with a private mooring.

A further 150 docks will be available throughout the development and the entire project is planned to cover around 1,680,000 square metres of land, 360,000 square metres of which is protected and belongs to the National Agricultural Reserve (RAN). Special conditions have been imposed before any development can begin on the RAN land, a strip of land near the coast that will be the site of lakes and canals, as well as natural flood defences. Red tape means work is not expected to begin on Cidade Lacustre for up to two years, however the project will be a shot in the arm for owners of property in the Algarve.

Meanwhile Vilamoura Marina has been names the Best Marina in Portugal for the fourth year in a row, at the Portugal Trade Awards 2014. In the last five years, much time and money have been invested in upgrading the Marina’s infrastructures. It is one of the first marinas to be awarded quality and environmental certification by ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, as well as the European Blue Flag and the maximum 5 Anchors distinction by the Yacht Harbour Association’s Gold Award Scheme.

Brits and Americans helping to drive record tourist numbers in Portugal

New numbers released on travel to Portugal in 2013 show that it was a record year with more than 14 million visitors in 2013, a year-on-year rise of 4.2 per cent with British visitors remaining the most significant and Americans seeing the highest level of growth in terms of inbound tourists.

Tourists from the UK totalled 1.4 million in 2013, up 7.4 per cent from 2012, generating revenue of circa €1.5 billion, an increase of 4.2 per cent. Meanwhile, the National Statistics Institute (INE) in Portugal also reported a 16.4 per cent increase in overnight stays by American hotel guests, accounting for a 21 per cent hike in revenue.

“In these uncertain times, American travellers are looking for two things – value for the dollar and the value of experience,” say Jayme Simões, a tourism spokesperson. “Portugal is strong on both counts. The country’s mild, year-round climate with its historical attractions, new and classic museums, and wine country make Portugal a memorable place to explore for the American traveller. Even with the exchange rate in Europe, Portugal is one of Europe’s best values.”

Every region in Portugal saw an increase in guest stays in 2013. Porto and the Alentejo regions had the biggest increases with up to 29 per cent and 14.6  per cent more guests. Lisbon was the most sought after city and recorded growth of 8.4  per cent. The Azores showed an excellent an excellent rate of growth with more 7.4 per cent increase.

Filipe Silva, UK director of Turismo de Portugal expects that 2014 will be a similarly successful year. He commented: “TAP Portugal, BA, Jet2.com, Ryanair, easyJet, Monarch, Thomson and FlyBe have added flight capacity to all four of Portugal’s airports, suggesting demand for flights to Portugal is increasing. We believe this is due to the diverse product we have on offer, from cities, beaches, golf, nature and culture, to world-renowned gastronomy and wine.”

Strong tourism numbers are good news for the Portuguese property market, helping to maintain demand for property in the Algarve and increasing rental demand for homes in Algarve resorts.

Increased activity from airlines BA and TAP confirm Portugal’s on-going popularity

Confidence in the Algarve as an international destination received a shot in the arm at the end of March – and getting there got easier – after British Airways reinstated its direct service between Heathrow and Faro.

BA re-launched a twice weekly service – on Saturdays and Sundays – between the gateway to the Algarve and London’s primary airport on March 30th, after stopping it more than 10 years ago. At the same time, the airline has increased the frequency of its service between Gatwick and Faro, from once to twice a day, launched a service to Porto in northern Portugal from Heathrow, and will re-open its route between London city and Faro for July and August.

In other airline news, Portugal’s national carrier, TAP Portugal, has reported full-year net income of €34 million for 2013, which is more than double the airline’s €15.9 million profit reported for 2012. The results reflect a fifth consecutive year of profitability for the Lisbon-based airline, which carried 10.7 million passengers in 2013 – a 5.1 per cent increase on 2012’s 10.2 million passengers.

TAP’s positive results reflect the airline’s continued efforts to boost sales, particularly in international markets, and to improve efficiency by increasing productivity and reducing waste.  TAP has strengthened its contribution to the national economy, as reflected in the field of exports and in the growth in tourism. In 2014 TAP is going to add six aircraft to its fleet, which will enable it to offer ten new destinations — Belem, Manaus, Bogota, Panama City, Nantes, Gothenburg, Belgrade, Hannover, Tallinn and St. Petersburg — and to improve others. This represents an eight per cent increase in supply and is the biggest ever increase in a single year.

Price decline slowing, sales rising – Portugal’s recovery gains momentum

Portugal’s property market is getting busier as the second quarter of 2014 gets underway, indicating the housing recovery is well underway, according to the latest RICS/Ci Portuguese Housing Market Survey (PHMS).

The February PHMS results highlight a continued increase in buyer interest which has led to a modest rise in sales. Lettings activity remained relatively steady, although respondents appear a little more optimistic regarding prospects for future volumes.

In the sales market, transaction levels picked up slightly on the back of the strong buyer interest reported last month. What’s more, new buyer enquiries continued to rise at a healthy pace throughout the February period. Buyers will be encouraged by the fact that house prices are still falling, although the pace of decline has slowed significantly. All things considered, the sales market appears to be in better shape than at any other point since the (PHMS) survey was launched in 2010.

In the lettings sector, tenant demand experienced a marginal uptick while landlord instructions fell for the fifth month in succession. Rents continue along their downward trajectory and are anticipated to fall further in the short term. However, the outlook for lettings activity turned more upbeat, with respondents expecting volumes to rise over the coming three months.

RICS Senior Economist, Josh Miller said: “The February results show improved buyer interest beginning to translate into greater transaction volumes, a trend which is projected to continue in the near term. This is slowing but has not yet arrested the decline in prices. Before we are in a position to talk about a genuine turnaround in the housing market the brighter macro news flow must be sustained.