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British decline hits Portugal’s tourism numbers

Published on 15/01/2019

Despite a slowdown in the number of nights spent in Portugal, guests are paying more for their holidays, so the total take by the hotel sector continues to increase.

National tourism has eased off significantly with no records being broken as at the end of 2018.

Between January and November of last year, the number of guests did increase, albeit at a much slower pace that the year before, but the number of nights spent has fallen.

The data was released on Tuesday by the National Statistics Institute (INE), which reports that the national hotel industry received a total of 19,827,500 guests between January and November 2018, a rise of 1.6% over the same period of the previous year. The number of overnight stays totaled 54,795,100, a year-on-year fall of 0.2%.

A year earlier, the number of guests increased by nearly 9%, with overnight stays rising by over 7%.

If this deceleration continues in December, the tourism sector will close 2018 without breaking records in any of the key indicators. This has not happened since 2013.

The occupancy rate also is decreasing. Between January and October last year, this stood at 52.8%, one percentage point less than it was a year earlier.

The average length of stay fell 1.8% with each guest spending an average of 2.76 nights in their hotel of choice.

Hotel establishments continued to take more cash with total revenues exceeding €3.4 billion between January and November, up 6% on the previous year. The average income per available room was €54.5, an increase of 4.7%.

It’s the European market that is contributing to the slowdown as the number of tourists coming from markets such as Brazil and the United States continues to increase, as is the number of domestic tourists.

Brexit, according to tourism operators has had a negative impact. The number of visiting British, the main market in Portugal, fell more than 6% between January and November last year. German tourists were down 4% and Dutch, by 6% over the same period.

How these figures affect Portugal hotel sector remain to be seen but the prospect of over-supply, with an estimated 170 new hotels planning to open in the next five years, is moving from the realms of fiction to an economic reality.

According to real estate consultants, Cushman & Wakefield, 40% of the planned openings are for four-star and five-star hotels, a third of which will be in the Lisbon area.