Updated on June 13, 2022 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Portugal is a remarkably diverse destination to visit and explore. The country is Inextricably linked with the sea and has more than 800 kilometers of enticing Atlantic Ocean coastline. Lisbon, the capital city, is the best place to enjoy at a stunning location near the mouth of the River Tagus.

This small country is situated on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, and it is becoming the most visited country in Europe. It is a tourist attraction for an infinite number of reasons.

It has beautiful beaches, traditional cuisine, soccer, lively people, an idyllic climate, affordable travel costs, and an exceptional landscape, and all these characteristics make it a perfect tourist spot, even a lot of people are thinking to move and settle in Portugal permanently. In short, Portugal is one of the finest places in Europe to both visit and settle in.

Covid-19 and Tourism Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly affected the travel and tourism sector in Portugal. The country has seen continuous growth in the tourism industry before this pandemic. But the sector declined sharply as most businesses had to stop their activities. Portugal has reached top positions in the world’s travel and tourism market before this global crisis. Between 2010 and 2019, tourism almost doubled in the country.

The impact of COVID-19 on Portugal, and on the world was unpredictable. Throughout 2020 the advance of the pandemic was enormous, and the contraction of the number of arrivals amounted to between 70% and 80%. The scenario could have been worse, but during the beginning of 2021, between January and February, and also during some periods between July and August, the borders were re-opened and the lockdowns were eased, which allowed tourists to travel. There are many other initiatives and tourism improvement plans that are being formed to overcome the impact of Covid-19 on the industry.

Here, we explain some of the top trends and statistics in the Portugal Tourism industry.

Pre- and Post-Pandemic Trends

  1. Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the tourism sector represented almost one-fifth of Portugal’s economy.
  2. Covid-19, the global crisis caused the tourism contribution to GDP to drop by more than half in 2020.
  3. Portugal still remained among the top three most tourism-dependent countries in the European Union in 2020.
  4. The number of international arrivals and overnight stays in Portugal decreased sharply in 2020 over the previous year, due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  5. In 2020, roughly four million international travellers visited Portugal, whereas more than 16 million inbound tourists arrived in the country in 2019.
  6. The number of international overnight stays dropped from 49 million in 2019 to about 12 million in 2020.
  7. In February 2022, tourism rates recorded in Portugal indicated that the industry is marking its major comeback after almost two years of limited activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  8. According to the Portuguese Statistics Institute (INE), accommodation facilities in the country received 1.2 million guestsduring February 2022, with 2.9 millionspending on overnight stays.
  9. According to Intrepid Travel, Portugal and Iceland are Europe’s most sought-after destinations, likely due to their UK green listing.
  10. Tourism revenue in 2021 was forecast to reach half of the 2019 level.
  11. A high vaccinationrate has helped to ease travel curbs.

Contribution of Tourism in Portugal

  1. Tourism is now the biggest sector of the Portugueseeconomy, accounting for 8.2% of the national GDP in 2018(2% higher than in 2014).
  2. In 2018, the country generated €16.6 billion in revenue a year, more than double the figure seven years previously.
  3. Portugal has grown its visitor numbers – up to 27.4 million in 2018.
  4. In 2019, Portugal attracted 27.1 millionguests and generated 70.2 million overnight stays.
  5. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), direct, indirect, and induced impacts of tourism accounted for 19.8% of the GDP.
  6. Tourism has become the largest export economic activity in the country, responsible for 52.3% of exports of services and 19.7% of total exports.

Tourism Industry Insight

  1. Portugal has emerged as a travel destination with record-breaking figures for overnight stays, visitor numbers, and revenue from being a frequent subject of woeful headlines in the financial press.
  2. The country has embraced recent travel and tourism trends.
  3. The country has combined its rich heritage and historical attractions with trailblazing innovation to attract more and more visitors.
  4. Tourism 4.0 is an initiative developed by Turismo de Portugal that aims at promoting entrepreneurship, supporting travel, and tourism startups as well as fostering innovation in tourism in the country.
  5. Tourism 4.0 is established to take advantage of hospitality trends, promote the founding of new companies and help existing companies (mainly SMEs) to modernize.
  6. In 2019, a budget of over €1.5 million was available to support 450 startups.
  7. Tourism Innovation Centre (Centro de Inovação do Turismo), the Tourism Digital Forum, and the Fostering Innovation in Tourism program (FIT) are the main initiatives to promote tourism in the country.
  8. Turismo de Portugal has built up a partner network with 40 incubators to promote new startups and help them to have a presence at international trade fairs.
  9. Several more initiatives including the Madeira Startup Retreat, Tourism Up, From Start to Table, Lisbon Challenge Fall, and Tourism Explorers are being started to make Portugal an interesting place to visit and stay.
  10. The Madeira Startup Retreat aims to bring together 10 Startups focused on Tourism & Travel.
  11. Startups interested in Madeira Startup Retreatcan apply with 2 to 4 collaborators.
  12. Legally established startups and companies can apply for this retreat, they need to be up and running, i.e., previously established, functioning, and scalable. It must have an updated website/platform and social media.
  13. Vila Galé, a famous hotel chain in Portugal has embraced digitalization.
  14. Vila Galé wants Customer Experience Excellence, therefore hotel chain started using digital technology to communicate with its guests.
  15. The hotel chain has introduced paperless processes for everything from invoice approvals to leave rotas, and staff can now log maintenance issues (such as doors or rooms that need repairs) on their smartphones.
  16. Like Vila Galé, there are many examples of the increasing use of digital technology in the Portuguese tourism sector.
  17. Other digital trends in the tourism sector include robotic processing automation solutions.
  18. The Pestana Hotel Group has invested in a system to report faults and help ensure repairs are carried out more quickly, allowing staff to spend more time looking after guests and less on routine maintenance tasks.
  19. Cruise catering businesses and many other companies are experimenting with the Internet of Things and biometric recognition.

Other Tourist- related Trends and Statistics

  1. There is a unique experience for visitors and tourists in Portugal, “Live Electric Tours” launched in 2017, where visitors can drive “Twizy”, a 100% electric car with a capacity for two people
  2. Tourists can command these Twizys where they want to go, where they want to stop, and what they want to see.
  3. Tourists can discover cities with total environmental responsibility with these Twizys.
  4. Live Electric Tours cars are the only ones in the world that are equipped with free internet, a GPS audioguide, and a live camera to share everything live with friends and family.
  5. With Live Electric Tours cars, visitors don’t pay for parking and still can get to know the cities with maximum safety and comfort
  6. All Twizy cars have airbags, seatbelts, and discbrakes.
  7. Due to such innovations, in 2017 and 2018, Portugal has named the World’s Leading Destination two years in a row at the World Travel Awards
  8. Visitors can also explore Portugal via the app “CItyGuru” where friendly guides and all little lettuces are ready to show visitors this town’s hidden gems
  9. CityGuru organizes exclusive tours and experiences, on & off the beaten track, forthe individual, as well as small groups scheduled around dates and times that are convenient for visitors.
  10. Visitors can use the app to find nearby tour guides who are available to do a tour within the next ten minutes.
  11. According to João Moedas, CEO of CityGuru, it’s a perfect fit for the on-demand economy.
  12. UNESCOHeritage sites and beautiful sceneries make Portugal a delight for walkers and photographers.
  13. Excellentseafood like sardines and octopus together with cured meats (sausages and ham), delicious bread, pastries, and deep knowledge of flavors put Portugal at the top of the gastronomy ranking.
  14. Numerous dance clubs, bars, and restaurants helped contribute to the reputation of Portugal as a party destination.
  15. Porto and Lisbon have the busiestnightlife.
  16. Portugal is cheaper than Spain, France, and Italy for golf and is extremely popular with golfers looking for a more cost-effective way to experience Golf in the Mediterranean sunshine.
  17. Portugal is one of the World’s Top Surf Spots and it is a popular destination for surfers and beach-goers from all over the world.