FARO, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Faro airport in the south of Portugal received more than 5,000 British passengers on Monday alone as the country eased travel restrictions and sanitary rules for tourists from the United Kingdom (UK).
At the airport, the Algarve Travel Agency (RTA) received the British tourists with a "welcome action," distributing a kit consisting of promotional material on the region's attractions and health protection items such as masks and alcohol gel.
The president of RTA, Joao Fernandes, who was personally in charge of the reception, said that the arrival of tourists will greatly ease the economic crisis the region is experiencing.
Late in the morning, a flight from Manchester landed at the Faro airport. A young couple of the flight told Xinhua that they decided to travel to the Algarve region, which is known for glorious sandy beaches, picturesque fishing towns and Mediterranean climate, after the UK government included Portugal among the countries with non-essential travel without requiring quarantine on return on May 7.
Another couple said that they usually came to Portugal every year in the winter, but this year they just waited for the lockdown rules to be eased to plan their holidays.
Adriana Martins, a Brazilian woman who lives in Portugal, got a job again at the airport "thanks to the return of travel and tourism." She used to work at the terminal but was dismissed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her husband Andre Martins, who was also an employee of an airport restaurant, lost his job due to restrictive measures. He welcomed the reactivation of tourism in the region, saying it will be "very important for the economy."
Maike Kalinke, who is in charge of several restaurants at the airport, said: "From now on it will be like this every day, with many tourists arriving, and the flow will remain strong in the coming weeks when there will also be a movement back. This should lead to the levels we had before the pandemic."
An Algarve hotel manager told Xinhua he celebrated the return of flights from the United Kingdom, saying that not only the region, but the whole of Portugal "essentially depends" on the tourism industry.
Luis Fernando, an owner of a restaurant at the airport, recalled that the situation has already improved a lot with the end of the lockdown in the country. But the arrival of tourists is a decisive factor to "recover more than a year of losses" because of the pandemic, he noted.
According to the Portuguese airline TAP, the volume of flights purchased from the United Kingdom rose 131 percent last week compared to the previous week.
The passenger transport company responded to the demand by more than doubling the number of weekly flights between Lisbon and Porto, the second largest city of Portugal, to London.
"More than 20 countries where TAP currently operates and whose passengers can now travel for leisure to Portugal," the airline said in a statement.
In addition to the flights, cruise ship arrivals at the port of Lisbon were reactivated on Monday, whose passengers only need to present a negative COVID-19 test to enter the city.
The naval passenger transport company Brittany Ferries is expected to inaugurate next week a new sea route between the city of Porto, in the north of Portugal, and the United Kingdom.