Portugal’s tourism knows no bounds

30th August 2015

In 2014 foreigners spent €10.4bn in Portugal, increasing by 12.4% compared to 2013, a new high for the country. Regarding tourism, Portuguese receipts have increase three times more than Spain, four times more than Italy and two times more than France, the most visited country in the world. This sector, accounting for 15% of Portuguese GDP, led the economy out of the 2008 crisis.

Hostel receipts have increased by 13%, mainly due to more visits from British, Spanish and French clients. The government has created an alliance with the Portugal’s French owned airports operator, ANA, in order to promote Portugal to the French market. By 2020 they plan to have invested some €10m in promotional activities. 

Increasing tourism spawns further investment in the capital

With Portuguese tourism on the up, the authorities, investors and entrepreneurs are implementing new projects of infrastructural refurbishment and renewal across Lisbon. The Rua Augusta Arch and the Parque das Naçoes districts are relevant examples, but many private investors are also putting their minds and resources into individual dilapidated buildings creating modernity, while maintaining the original structure and spirit (see Nuno Graça Moura’s work in the northeast). It is this new mix of past and present, which is the current story of Portugal and its capital.

New challenges for Portugal

To maintain this progress Portugal has to tackle a few issues, particularly with its transport network. Ideas have started on how to improve and modernise this area: projects for a new airport in Lisbon and further high-speed rail connection are on the way. 

Away from the traditional tourism sector the government will start to organise “mega events” similar to the 1998 Universal Exposition, which many consider contributed to the country’s international profile.

Of course, Portugal also has to be wary of the effects of a mini “tourism-boom”. Infrastructure improvements are on thing, but the country also needs to look towards the impact this increase will have on residents and balance the expectations between those living in Portugal and those visiting.

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