Tourism Drives Revival in Portuguese Economy
Portugal’s tourism revenue grew 12.37% in 2014, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), reaching €10.4 billion in revenue and contributing more than €7 to Portugal’s balance of trade. The increase represents the third successive year of impressive growth for a sector that represents around 5% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), employs 8% of Portugal’s working population.
Portugal is one of the world’s 20 most visited countries, with over 13 million people visiting the country every year.
The UK, Spain, France, Brazil and Germany saw the greatest rise in tourist numbers between 2010 and 2014, with Portugal’s internal market improving 13% in 2014 alone. In 2014 the rate of growth (11%) in number of overnight stays by tourists grew at a rate of four times that of neighbouring Spain. 2014 saw Portugal achieve a record 45 million overnight stays.
The country’s improved tourist performance is linked to the country’s international reputation as a quality destination. Globally, Portugal has received around 8,000 mentions in global press during the year.
Food and Wine magazine voted Lisbon as one of the world’s most romantic cities, ranking in 8th position among the 24 finalists led by perennial favourites Paris and San Francisco. The city achieved its ranking due to its gastronomy, beautiful views and friendly people. In 2012 Lisbon was voted European City by London’s Academy of Urbanism, and was recently considered a top destination by Tripadvisor.
European Best Destinations voted Sintra’s Pena Palace as the continent’s most attractive castle, beating Neuschwanstein and Segovia’s Alcazar to the post.
Hostelworld voted 8 of Portugal’s hostels among the leading in the world. Oporto and Lisbon shared honours as the two cities vied successfully for top positions in a number of categories. The Yes Porto Hostel was voted the safest in the world.
Ucityguides has ranked Portugal the 6th most beautiful country in the world, in a list topped by Italy, Spain and France, and which includes perennial favourites Brazil, South Africa and the USA. The Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking has placed Portugal in 10th place among European tourism destinations, highlighting its gastronomy, beaches and surfing. Madeira has been voted the best destination in Europe in which to usher in a new year. And Condé Nast Traveler, the highly respected travel publication, has voted Rua Augusta, located near the river in Lisbon, which is the world’s 9th most photographed city, the street one would most wish to visit before dying, ahead of Lombard Street in San Francisco and the Via Margutta in Rome! Cais da Ribeira in Porto pushed Venice’s Grand Canal into 9th place.
The World Golf awards have voted Portugal the World and Europe’s leading Golf Destination for 2014. The World Travel Awards have also anointed the Algarve as Europe’s leading beach destination.
And international owners of visiting vessels have voted Vilamoura, located in the Algarve, the world’s best international marina for 2015.
Among these myriad accolades, it was therefore perhaps not surprising that Portugal made it into the Top 10 (9th) of the Best Countries in the World to Retire, and the 2014 Retire Overseas Index ranked the Algarve ahead of 21 global locations including places such as Abruzzo in Italy, Barcelona in Spain, Istria in Croatia, Pau in France, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Istanbul in Turkey, Ambergris Caye in Belize, and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, as the Best Place in the World to Retire.
Anyone wishing to put Portugal, and specifically the Algarve’s, credential and pedigree to the test, is encouraged to try out the destination for a month to get the feel for the pace of life and to properly research their options, before taking a decision as to whether it is the place for them.