Saturday, 19 March 2011

Tolls on the A22 - Via de Infante - Algarve - Further Commentary

I've been away, but I am convinced that the chaos that is likely to result from a lack of foresight and planning by the Portuguese authorities on the planning of implementation of tolls on the A22/Via de Infante is going to result in a massive decrease in day and week-end tourists from Spain, with a substantial resultant negative multiplier effect on the local economy.

As diskwizz said above, this is going to hit the area west of Albufeira particularly.

I am, therefore, predicting a substantial decrease in tourism revenues for operators in this area for Summer 2010.

I do no believe the EN125 will be an option in Summer. It will be bumper to bumper. I have driven it from Lagos to Faro Airport several times recently and even off-season it takes 1hr. 25 minutes early on a Sunday morning.

My own advice to those planning to visit the Algarve after 15th April is as follows:

1) Come on a package tour including hotel and transfers to destinations.
2) Do not hire a car from Faro Airport, unless you are prepared for a "grind" along the EN125 getting to your destination.
3) Do not get an airport transfer, unless the company in question can confim the price of the transfer when booking.

4) If travelling to the Algarve by air, do not consider the Algarve as your only destination!!!!

Consider flying to either Lisbon or Seville. Spend a couple of days in either centre and then take a bus or train to your final destination in the Algarve. That way you can see a bit more of Portugal/Andalusia as well.

If you need a hire car, rent on locally on arrival in your destination.

However, at all costs avoid the A22 - (Via de Infante)!!!

A final observation. Even with electronic tolls, there is a simple solution, which no one appears to have thought off. Parking Garage type ticket machines where one can by "one-off" magnetic cards for a single trip.

Only problem is "someone" has to pay for slightly more expensive readers, software and other equipment to mount on the pylons capable of reading them.

I am not against tolls per say, but this complete lack of planning for a workable toll system, is, I am convinced going to result in serious and possible fatal damage to the Algarve as a tourist destination.

Even within Portugal, the Algarve is under increasing competition from Lisbon, Porto and other destinations.

I cannot believe that the IMF, if they were called in to assist on Portugal's problems, would advise on killing the golden goose of Algarve tourism. I am sure they would have advised on the need to build toll booths or provide an alternative systems for car-borne visitors to the Algarve.