A new network of motorhome service areas is being planned in Portugal.
The motorhome trend has been taking hold in Portugal in recent years due to international influence and has gained new momentum with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has generated an increase in demand for this type of tourism this summer 2020. In order to respond to this evolution in the market, the Portuguese tourism board, Turismo de Portugal, has an but in place its "Programa de Ação" (action programme) that foresees, until the end of 2021, the creation of an intelligent national network of service areas for motorhomes, campervans and caravans called "Life Campers". These "Life Camper" areas will have more and better information available to tourists and a reinforcement of the inspection and sanctioning of illegal practices.
In these service areas (known in Portugal as "ASA"), which are in permanent operation 24 hours a day, those travelling in motorhomes will find spaces for parking and overnight stays, which ensure the supply of electric energy, as well as water supply and solid waste disposal.
In addition to covering the entire national territory, the management of these spaces will be networked, through connection to a common electronic platform that allows for their georeferencing, updated information on the services available in each area, monitoring of occupation and online reservations.
Campervan holidays are growing rapidly in Portugal and across Europe. About 80% of motorhome holidaymakers are foreigners, mostly Germans, French and Spaniards who are retired and want to appreciate the culture and gastronomy of the destinations they visit, as well as local commerce. They prefer to travel in the middle and low seasons, contributing positively to the fight against seasonality, and have a greater appetite for coastal locations, namely the Alentejo and Algarve coasts in Portugal.
Projects in Alentejo and Ribatejo
The first of these service areas for motorhomes in national territory, located in Ponte de Sor Alentejo, was inaugurated on 16th July 2020, by the Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, marking the start of this programme aimed at creating and promoting more sustainable motorhome tourism conditions in Portugal.
The objective is the extension of the project to the whole country. The project, according to the Portuguese Tourism Board in a press release, is being initiated in Alentejo and Ribatejo, in 27 municipalities that have submitted 41 applications for financial support under what is known as the "Programa Valorizar", for the creation or requalification of ASA in their respective territories. These initial applications represent an overall investment of 3 million euros, and an approved financial support of 2 million euros.
At the same time, the public body indicates that awareness-raising actions are planned for motorhome drivers in order to promote good practice and also to strengthen supervision and sanctioning of illegal situations. Collaboration protocols have been established with the GNR (National Republican Guard), PSP (Public Security Police), the National Maritime Authority and ICNF (Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests).
The tourist board in Portugal, in collaboration with the Portuguese Camping and Mountaineering Federation and the sector's associations, has also developed a "Guia de Boas Práticas de Sustentabilidade para o Autocaravanismo" (a Guide to Good Sustainability Practices for Motor Caravaning), and is implementing good sanitary practices for the practice of this activity, in line with the COVID-19 guidelines of the health authorities in Portug, with training for companies and employees under the Clean & Safe initiative.