Since the pandemic started I hadn’t travelled at all, I stayed the entire Summer in Dubai and invested my time in creating my two new companies.
A lot of my Portuguese friends living in Dubai where lucky enough to go on holidays in the Summer to Portugal and I must confess I felt a bit jealous. I love Summer in Portugal, but on the other hand I was too busy and didn’t wanted to get caught in another lockdown.
Suddenly we are nearly at the end of the year and I didn’t even noticed it. A lot of things and changes happened in my personal life too and I had to travel to Portugal. After nearly one year of not seeing my family and friends in Portugal, I felt anxious and excited at the same time, mostly because I didn’t knew what to expect when travelling during the pandemic.

Sorting the travelling documents and getting the Covid test was very easy and straight forward. Went to airport well in advance if any unforeseen situations would happen.
The check in at the Emirates counter was easy and quick, the passport control even quicker so I had lots of spare time for shopping and enjoying a coffee at the lounge.
The airplane was fairly busy but we had a row for ourselves which I quite enjoyed it. I must say that travelling for 7,5 hours with a mask on your face is not very comfortable but eventually one gets used to it. – Safety first!

 In Lisbon, the local authorities check all your documents at arrival and you already feel welcomed by a smile.
Picking up the car at the rent-a-car was again  a quick and seamless experience. 
Rules have been taking serious in Portugal these days as numbers did rise during the Winter season as expected all over Europe. 
All measures are in place, everyone is wearing a mask and in supermarkets and shops only a certain amount of people are allowed in. I felt safe and actually quite enjoyed the fact that my city was not overcrowded. 

When the pandemic started in April, the Portuguese tourism board was the first to create a Clean & Safe seal of approval.    
This seal distinguish tourists activities which are compliant with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of Covid 19
With this measure the Portuguese Tourism Board intends to inform companies on the hygiene requirements and cleaning measures to ensure the safety of various establishments according to the directorate general for health, as well as promoting Portugal as a safe destination.
This seal requires a strict internal protocol for all companies that have implemented it. Regular audits of the establishments are also done.

You see this seal in most of restaurants, rent-a-car, hotels , airport, etc, so it gives one the guarantee that  things are been taking serious in Portugal, so visitors and tourists have indeed an enjoyable and safe experience.  

I had a lovely Autumn weather and came back with a few extra pounds, as usual, but it was all worth it.

Can’t wait to go back !!!

Maria Ines Amaral
Founder and CEO of Portuguese Association of Tourism for the Middle East