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Published on Friday, September 11, 2020

Portugal ruling 'disappointing and disruptive', says tourism chief

Portuguese tourism officials have described the decision to remove the country from the safe travel list as 'disappointing and disruptive' - but said they expect some British tourists to ignore the ruling.

Portugal Tourism Board President Luis Araujo said he was confident it would continue to welcome tourists in a 'safe and controlled manner'.

The comments came after England joined Scotland and Wales in adding mainland Portugal to the list of countries from where travellers must quarantine on their return.

The Azores and Madeira remain on the safe list as part of the government's more nuanced island corridor approach.

"To receive this decision on mainland Portugal just three weeks after being added to the air bridge list is disappointing and disruptive, though we maintain respect for the UK government and their choices," Araujo said. "We will continue to implement our safety measures and strategies to ensure Portugal is a safe destination for all and will continue close communication with the UK government.

"Despite this decision, we remain confident in the infrastructure and safety measures implemented and established through the close collaboration between the Portuguese government and tourism sector to ensure the effective and efficient containment of the virus."

Despite the development, Araujo suggested British holidaymakers would continue to visit the mainland, as they did before Portugal was added to the safe travel list in August.

"Throughout this period, the safety of people staying in Portugal has remained the absolute priority," he said. "From our side, we can say that we have welcomed visitors from the United Kingdom both before and after Portugal was added to the air bridge list by the UK government, in a safe and controlled manner.

"It is important that all decisions are made with regional data in mind. For example, the Azores Islands and Madeira do not have a quantifiable value of transmissibility rate (R rate) due to the small numbers of cases reported.

"We are encouraged that this data outlining the safety of the islands has been taken into account this time as the islands are in complete control of the virus and remain safe destinations for overseas guests."

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