Tourism in Portugal hits new high

A week after Portuguese airports reported their best passenger figures in over a decade comes, news that never before has Portugal generated as much money from foreign tourism than it has during the first half of 2011.

Tourism in PortugalTourism, Portugal’s primary export, has more than resisted the economic crisis. Revenue has reported year-on-year growth of 8.8 percent, making the first six months of the year the best in the country’s history in terms of receipts.

With prices stagnant, or even down on previous years, these figures appear even more unlikely.

While experts in the industry agree 2011 has been far better than expected, especially at the high-end of the market and in less traditional destinations in Portugal, these figures have still come as a surprise. Authorities are seemingly still deciphering statistics as requests by The Portugal News for a detailed explanation still await a reply.

June, the final month of the period in question, was meanwhile also the best on record, reporting 10.3 percent year-on-year growth. More significantly, it also surpassed the previous best June, which was registered at the height of the 2004 Euro Football Championship, which many observers predicted would not be beaten until the country hosted another major sporting event.

In June, 660 million euros were spent by foreign visitors, up 28 million euros from June 2004.

In total, foreign tourists left behind a total of 3.246 billion euros in Portugal during the first half of 2011, which is up 263 million euros from the same period last year.

According to a statement published this week by Turismo de Portugal, “These numbers are the best first half figures in terms of revenue, beating the previous best of 3.139 billion euros of 2008.”

French, British and Brazilian tourists were found to have been the biggest contributors to the national economy during the first six months of 2011.

The greatest year-on-year increases however, came from Brazil (up 40.5 percent), followed by the United States (22.1 percent), France (14.2 percent), Belgium (15 percent) and Germany with 10.5 percent.

In 2010, tourism was responsible for no less than 14 percent of Portugal’s services, goods and exports.

Based on these latest figures, tourism is set to hold an even more significant share of the nation’s exports in 2011, making Portugal increasingly dependant on this industry to emerge from its current economic woes.

Last week, The Portugal News revealed that passenger traffic at Portugal’s major airports had climbed to 3.2 million in July, a number which has not been seen since the turn of the millennium, while figures at the international airports of Lisbon and Oporto broke all-time records.


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