Tourists returning to Porto, business hampered by metro work, Luiz I bridge closure

  • Lusa
  • 16 November 2021

The work that dictated the closures of the Luiz I Bridge and Rua dos Clérigos hurting business in the city.

‘Tuk-tuk’, panoramic buses and bicycles have returned to the streets of Porto loaded with tourists, as in pre-pandemic times, but the work that dictated the closures of the Luiz I Bridge and Rua dos Clérigos hurting business.

“Since June we have resumed activity (…). I think it is getting better. But in Porto it is complicated, because the streets are narrow and we have few options to escape the traffic and with closed bridges, closed streets, Rua dos Clérigos closed, it is very complicated for us to work, “reports Vitor Lemos, tour guide, at the wheel of a ‘tuk-tuk’, a means of tourist transport common in Thailand which invaded Porto about 10 years ago, accompanying the arrival of tourists to northern Portugal.

The tuk-tuk driver highlights that tourists are once again filling the streets of the city, but points out that 2021 has given rise to ‘low-cost’ tourism, different to that experienced in 2019, the golden year of the sector in northern Portugal, before the pandemic.

Despite the traffic constraints currently experienced in the city centre, due to the metro work and the rehabilitation works on the Luiz I Bridge, which have forced the closure of the connection between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, André Rodrigues, manager of Rollertown, a company which currently has 10 tour buses operating in Porto, says that in the summer the buses reached an occupancy rate of around 50%, when compared to the 2019 figures.

About the possibility of a possible fifth wave of Covid-19, André Rodrigues assures that the “company is prepared”.

“If we have to close or confine for the good of the country, let us do it, but I have no doubt that the company is prepared. We are not lowering our arms. We know what we have to do and we are prepared to serve the city and therefore the commitment is long-term.”

The bicycle rental business did well this summer. It was one of the few businesses that, even in a pandemic, did not close down completely, recalls José Luís Leitão, manager of Biclas & Triclas – Rent a Bike and Tours”, based near the building of Porto’s Customs House.

“The good thing the pandemic brought to my business was that Portuguese citizens also woke up a little bit to bicycles and started to use them as an excuse to go for a ride without being bothered by the authorities. (…) Let’s say that in terms of Portuguese clientele, of people who live here in the city, 2021 was, perhaps, our best year ever”.

The months of July, August, September and even in October recorded “many customers” and was always growing, but is beginning to register a decline in these last days of November and that may be related to “advertising the fifth wave of Covid-19”.

On the streets of Porto’s Ribeira, Alfândega, Clérigos or Foz area, electric bicycles ridden by tourists from all over the world meet ‘tuk-tuk’, panoramic buses, scooters or skaters. Only the traffic congestion due to the metro work makes the rides longer and less magical.