A month ago, hotel manager Hugo Goncalves was gearing up for a bustling summer with almost all rooms at the Tivoli Marina de Vilamoura Resort in the Algarve fully booked.
Goncalves hired new staff and stocked up the bar and kitchen to be ready for an influx of visitors, particularly British travelers, after a disastrous 2020. That was before Portugal was abruptly taken off the U.K.’s green list of countries, meaning those returning would need to quarantine, and the country started to look like a hotspot for the highly contagious delta strain of the coronavirus.
Then the Portuguese government imposed travel restrictions on Lisbon residents during weekends, making it harder for locals to travel to the warmer beaches — and hotels such as the Tivoli Marina — in southern Portugal.
“Four weeks ago, we had more than 90% of our rooms booked but now it’s just over 30%,” said Goncalves. “I don’t understand how Portugal stopped being safe from one day to the next.”
Just as the northern hemisphere summer season kicks off and the European Union’s Covid-19 travel certificates become available, Portugal’s path back to normality — along with the rest of the region’s — is at risk of being upended by the delta strain.