Portuguese tourism is recovering after the collapse of the pandemic, but a return to the previous level is questionable

Portuguese tourism is recovering after the collapse of the pandemic, but a return to the previous level is questionable

Tourism in Portugal is recovering faster than in other parts of Europe, but the number of foreign visitors this year is anticipated to fall short of the pre-pandemic high set in 2019, according to the country’s hotel association, AHP. Tourist numbers in Portugal rebounded to 5.9 million in 2021, a year after plummeting to 3.9 million, the lowest level since the mid-1980s and much behind the all-time high of 16.4 million in 2019.

Bernardo Trindade, AHP’s president, said recovery of tourism in Portugal was happening faster than in other European countries, mostly thanks to its location, far from the war ravaging Ukraine, and people’s perceptions of it as a safe place to visit. But when looking at 2022 as a whole hoteliers are not as optimistic, Siza Vieira told Reuters.

The chief executive of Portugal’s hotel association AHP, Cristina Siza Vieira, said demand was set to increase “immensely” during the summer season, with hotels expecting to reach pre-pandemic levels over that period.

“Possibly, when we close the year in December, we could get close to 2019 levels but not at the same level yet,” she said. There are two big challenges the sector is facing: staffing shortages and rampant inflation, Siza Vieira explained.

According to Portugal’s statistics office INE, hotels and restaurants employed 266,600 people in the first quarter of 2022, 45,200 more than in the same period last year, but 33,200 less than in the first three months of 2019. Portugal’s tourism sector accounted for almost 15% of gross domestic product before the pandemic and was one of the main drivers of its recovery from the 2010-14 economic and debt crisis.

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