Portugal fast tracks British tourists in break from Brexit protocols

Portugal has become the first major EU country to break Brexit protocols and fast-track UK travellers at airports. The country has installed passport e-lanes for Brits at key airports, which allow passengers to avoid dreaded waits at the ‘other passports’ queue – a familiar sight for many since the UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020.

The airports that have such e-lanes set up are Faro, Lisbon and Porto in mainland Portugal, and Funchal in Madeira. British Airways is running daily direct flights to all four from Heathrow airport this summer.

The move means that UK citizens are now treated broadly the same as their EU counterparts at the Portuguese borders. The speedy passport e-gates allow people to zip through borders without manual checks. For now, Brits must still have their passports stamped in a separate line, but this is presumably shorter, The Telegraph reports.

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British tourists are Portugal’s biggest single visitor group, says the paper, with nearly 484,000 ‘room nights’ booked up in just the first two months of this year. The country is through to target British sunseekers who are still picking between Mediterranean countries this summer

More destinations are hoped to copy the move to lure visitors with a fast start to their holiday, including the likes of Spain, Italy, France and Greece, which all receive a significant chunk of their tourism revenue from the UK. Travel insight expert Paul Charles said Portugal’s could lead to a “domino effect”.

Luis Araujo, president of Turismo de Portugal, told The Telegraph: “We are delighted to continue welcoming British tourists to Portugal and are pleased that the e-gates in the country’s main airports will provide increased accessibility for our valued British travellers as we head into the busy summer period. We’re delighted to have made travel to Portugal even more seamless for those able to make the most of the new e-gates.”

The electronic gates are thought to be available to visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan too.

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