Portugal is focused on rebuilding trust and meeting tourists’ new needs in the hope of a rebound in UK visitors next year, according to the president of the country’s tourist board.

National Tourism Board of Portugal president Luis Araujo thanked the UK travel trade for its support during the pandemic and said he was hopeful Portugal would be put back on the UK’s travel corridor list “very soon”.

The destination was put on the travel corridors list in August but taken off again only a few weeks later, with the exception of islands Madeira and the Azores.

He welcomed recent news of a reduction in quarantine from 14 days to as little as five days from the end of the current lockdown.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, he said: “We would love to see all of the country open. Hopefully, we will see it very soon. We are taking all the measures for this to improve very quickly.

“We welcome any decision that is favourable in mobility. Things are improving very quickly and the good news about the vaccine is already helping.”

The UK is Portugal’s main source market, representing 20% of overall tourists into the country. This year the country has focused on domestic tourism and enjoyed 10 million tourism visitors, the same as 25 years ago, compared with 27 million in 2019, its best year to date.

Araujo stressed the destination was working hard to ensure that all tourist venues were Covid-secure, having already introduced new safety protocols across the country at accommodation providers.

He said: “We are working towards a recovery in 2021. Christmas will be a good test. If we get prepared, then during February and March we can rebound again.

“We are trying to help our hotels, travel agents and restaurants survive. Hopefully we will see a rebound in tourism, especially with the markets that know us better. We rely a lot on the UK because there is a strong relationship.

“We are really focusing on preparing ourselves for the new needs for customers, safety is one of them, and trying to rebuild trust.  Our biggest competitor is fear.”

He maintained the holiday experience for tourists could be even better than in the past. “Our beaches, our heritage…everything is the same, but I would say it’s an even better experience because there is a bigger focus on the customer.”

On the impact of Brexit on tourism, Araujo stressed the importance of continued “easy access” between the UK and Portugal.

“Tourism is so important for both countries. Hopefully we will see from January 1 that there are very clear rules but that the value of the relationship between the two countries is preserved,” he added.