Interest in property in the Algarve should rocket this year, as new statistics reveal visitor numbers in Portugal are surging at a higher rate than anywhere else in Europe.
Portugal has seen the highest rise in holiday bookings this year, as an increasing number of tourists choose to avoid destinations with security risks, such as Egypt and Tunisia. According to the ABTA travel association, bookings to Portugal have risen by 29 per cent, beating Spain's 26 per cent rise and Cyprus' 18 per cent.
Adding to its appeal, this year the Algarve achieved an increase in the number of Blue Flag beaches along its coastline. It now has 88 Blue Flag beaches, three more than 2015. The new Flags were awarded to Armona-Ria in Olhão, Rocha Baixinha in Albufeira and Amoreira Mar in Aljezur. All four Algarve marinas – Vilamoura, Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos – kept hold of their Blue Flags.
On a national level, Portugal received a record 314 Blue Flags, with 15 new additions. This means Portugal now has the fifth highest number of Blue Flags out of European countries, trailing only behind Spain (579), Turkey (436), Greece (395) and France (379).
The highly sought-after Blue Flag accolades are awarded annually by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) across almost 50 countries worldwide. Blue Flag beaches are judged on four different categories: water quality, safety and services, environmental management, and environmental education and information. Attaining Blue Flag status is seen as the gold standard for beaches and is widely recognised as an indication of the high environmental and quality standards of the beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators.