2017 saw Portugal and the Algarve winning many tourism awards, and we welcomed more visitors than ever before with hotels and private rental accommodation selling out at the height of the season.
The Algarve is once again a thriving holiday hotspot, and that’s a very positive thing for both local business and tourism.
Here are some of the exciting, new developments and improvements that you can look forward to in 2018.
Zoomarine Theme Park
Featuring in many award nominations, it’s the 5th year in a row that Zoomarine has been in the Travellers’ Choice Awards 2017 as one of the best Theme Parks in Europe, but a very proud first time in the best theme parks of the world category.
2018 will bring some new experiences and shows to the highly popular theme park and returning visitors can expect a plethora of exciting new additions.
There will be a fabulous Tropical river that spans 400 meters of curving waterways where you can sit in the comfort of your buoy and glide past the coconut trees and waterfalls.
The hugely successful Pirate Bay will be open for the whole season for the first time along with firm favourites like the Beach, 4D Cinema, Aquarium, Big Wheel and of course the dolphin shows, so Zoomarine tickets should definitely be on your shopping list for 2018!
Exchange Rates Predictions for 2018
With the looming prospect of Brexit in the air, we wonder where the GBP/EURO relationship will end up but the beginning of 2018 witnessed a calm start, and the predictions don’t show too much trouble ahead in the imminent future.
Peter Lavelle from currency experts PureFX told us “The pound to euro exchange rate may rise in 2018! This is because the UK economy continues to do well, with the UK creating a bumper 102,000 jobs late last year. Meanwhile, the euro could fall, because Germany is still struggling to form a government, following September’s fragmented elections!”
British families have been coming to the Algarve for many years, and the indicators aren’t predicting much of a dip. Perhaps some of the cheaper package deals will have increased in price, and unfortunately, the closure of Monarch won’t help with the airfare hikes that happen every summer, but generally speaking, everything looks positive and Portugal still represents excellent value for holiday makers.
The average spend per person isn’t likely to change much as there are still plenty of options at all levels for tourists to enjoy.
Aquashow Water Park
We spoke with Juri Tietzen, Aquashow’s Commercial Director and he hinted that we can expect some very exciting new things in 2018 although he wasn’t keen to give the game away just yet.
“Every year we have some new exciting rides. For the opening season in 2018, however, you’ll have to wait to see what they are and I think visitors will love them” he teased.
Thanks for the teaser Juri, guess we will just have to keep you posted on the new Aquashow arrivals as soon as he lets us know.
Weather Predictions for 2018
Jason Nicholls, Senior Meteorologist at weather experts AccuWeather spoke with Algarve Fun and gave his prediction for 2018.
“Overall this coming Spring for southern Portugal does not look to be as wet as last spring. The wettest part of the spring will likely be in March then April and May look drier than normal. Much like last summer there will be very little rainfall this coming summer. Temperatures will average above normal this spring and summer, similar to last year. Last March through August temperatures averaged near 2 degrees C above normal. This year could be warmer by 0.5 to 1 degree C. Autumn 2018 will be another warm and drier than normal period for Algarve.”
Many thanks Jason; it sounds like it will be a good year for visitors and residents alike.
New Porsche 718S at the Autodromo
The Autodromo do Algarve has been holding track days since they opened and are always improving their racing school fleet. The latest addition to the impressive selection of cars for rent is a stunning Porsche 718S. You can choose the self-drive or go for the “hot laps” option that lets you sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the buzz while the professional driver speeds around the track.
Now you can choose from the Porsche GT3, the Nissan GTR, the Porsche Carrera 911 and the new Porsche 718S.
The increase in visiting tourists to Portugal was around 20% from 2016 to 2017, and with hotels already filling up in January, we are expecting a continued strong rise in 2018.
Tourism is flourishing with a new wave of tourists discovering the spectacular coastal resorts along the Algarve, rich Winelands of the Alentejo and the cities, Lisbon and Porto seeing record numbers, Portugal has never been more popular, even offseason.
French, American and Asian numbers are the ones that have noticeably taken a prominent peak, and European visitors continue to pour in.
We asked Gary Miller, Director at Algarve Fun, about the feedback he was getting so far this year and he said “Many of our partners, most notably boat operators, have reported strong winter bookings and as we progress into 2018 we are hopeful that not only will this build into a busy season, but another year where the length of the tourist season extends to an earlier start and a later finish.”
New flight route from Italy
Spanish airline Volotea has added a great new destination to its schedule with a direct flight between Faro and Verona from June to September.
Currently, the only flight that links Italy and the Algarve and the Spanish airline will start with a weekly flight through the four-month, peak period. According to Dora Coelho, Director of the ATA, “2016 saw 108,000 overnight stays by Italian tourists in the region. That’s why we consider this market to be strategically relevant to the region.”
Verona is a wonderful cultural destination in itself and an accessible gateway to northeast Italy.
The AHP, Hotels association, announced that 66 new hotels are scheduled to open in 2018, with the majority of them being in Porto and Lisbon. The Algarve won’t miss out though and will see 4 brand new hotels as well as several major renovations.
They seem to have been going on forever but, we think they are going to be finally finished in 2018 (fingers crossed). The EN125, the main road that runs through the Algarve previously had a horrible reputation as a dangerous road with bad traffic in peak season, so the authorities have put a series of roundabouts, traffic calming measures, changed the speed limits and placed occasional speed cameras along the road.
Hopefully the measures will offer some relief to residents and tourists alike as they travel in the Algarve in 2018.
MAR Shopping and Designer Outlet
In the latter part of 2017, an IKEA megastore opened in Loule, near Faro airport and the retail area was completed with two distinct shopping areas. 2018 will be the first crucial summer season for the centre.
The first retail area is MAR Shopping, which is home to some big international brands, such as Zara and Zara Home, H&M, Aldo, Primark, Massimo Dutti, Pandora, Bershka, Flying Tiger, Giovanni Galli and loads of food outlets including KFC, Piada17, Algarve Chef Experiences and the eagerly awaited Starbucks.
Then there’s the Designer Outlet, and that finalises the retail park with brands including Calvin Klein, Douglas, Ana Sousa, Adidas, Bimba y Lola, Gucci Eyewear, Guess, Intimissimi, Lacoste, Samsonite and loads of others offering their ranges at up to 70% discount.
The shopping areas are open from 10am until midnight Friday and Saturday, and from 10am until 11pm every other day.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an enormous renovation taking place in Faro Airport that is reported to have cost in the region of €40million.
The new and improved airport suffered some pretty hefty disruptions during the renovation, but with the revamp complete, we now have modern and more efficient, 93,120sqm airport that can cope with the influx of new visitors making departures and arrivals more fluid which we hope is good news for tourists arriving in 2018.
The government expects a 50% increase in passenger numbers at Faro Airport in the near future, and that would equate to around €600 million in extra income, with potentially 8,000 new jobs. All very positive stuff!