Portugal books tourism record
A record number of foreign tourists stayed in Portuguese hotels last year, official data showed Wednesday, boosting the economy after a punishing international bailout.
Tourist arrivals and all travel-related revenues, which account for around 10 percent of Portugal’s gross domestic product, have been growing since 2011, as security fears lure visitors away from rival Mediterranean sunshine destinations.
The number of foreign tourists reached 11.4 million, a 12.7 percent rise over the previous year when the number of arrivals hit a record 10.1 million, national statistics institute INE said in a statement.
The number of local travelers rose by 4.8 percent to 7.6 million as the Portuguese economy expanded by 1.4 percent in 2016.
Hotel revenues rose by more than 15.1 percent to 2.9 billion euros ($3.1 billion), outpacing the growth in tourist arrivals as hotels were able to increase prices thanks to strong demand.
Britons again topped the list of foreign visitors to the country, followed by Germans, Spaniards and French.
The INE figures do not include the number of foreign visitors who stayed in private homes rented through home-sharing sites like Airbnb which has soared in popularity in Portugal in recent years.
Airbnb says it housed 912,000 visitors in Portugal in 2015.
The rise in tourist arrivals has helped the Atlantic coastal country overcome its economic and debt crisis and helped slash the country’s jobless rate.
Portugal’s unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent last year after hitting a record high of 17.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 as the country grappled with recession under the weight of austerity imposed by a 78-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout deal that ended in 2014.
“The strong economic performance in the second half of 2016, particularly from tourism, has improved the outlook of the Portuguese economy,” the European Commission said in a survey of the country’s economy published Monday.