Monocolumn: High Hopes In Portugal For A Royal Honeymoon

After cuddly Bo Obama was introduced to the global media, enquiries to breeding farms in the region – Portugal’s most popular tourist destination – inevitably increased. Two years later, the municipality is hoping for another financial boost caused by public name-checking.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

When the Obama family received a Portuguese water dog from the late senator Ted Kennedy in 2009, the tourism minister of the region it was from couldn’t have been happier. “We had been trying to get the Obamas to accept the dog – originally bred to help Portuguese fishermen – as our gift,” says Nuno Aires, the chief of tourism for the Algarve. “It is a particularly rare breed and a source of pride for our country. People here were ecstatic.”

After cuddly Bo Obama was introduced to the global media, enquiries to breeding farms in the region – Portugal’s most popular tourist destination – inevitably increased. Two years later, the municipality is hoping for another financial boost caused by public name-checking. According to Aires, officials have been in “serious discussion” with the British royal family over the prospects of Prince William and Kate Middleton enjoying their April honeymoon in the Algarve. The invitation was sent via the ambassador Alex Ellis in December.

The news was met with hope in the Portuguese press, but with scepticism and accusations of wishful thinking by others. Aires proclaimed that the Algarve option made big news in Britain – a statement that bended the truth at best – and that the couple’s acceptance was almost certain, given the “historic ties” between Portugal and the UK. This conviction has been met with silence back in Britain.

Certain hotels are already jumping the gun, offering special “romance packages” in anticipation. But you can’t blame them for hoping. If the young royals do turn up, the benefits would extend to everyone, from the man serving up grilled sardines on the beach, to the local paparazzi, who would normally have to wait until August for minor Portuguese celebrities to get into their swimsuits.

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