General Industry

Portugal Tourism Growth Slows Sharply As Fewer Brits visit

By Dave Simpson
Portugal Tourism Growth Slows Sharply As Fewer Brits visit

The number of foreign tourists who travelled to Portugal rose 7.5% to 22.8 million visitors in 2018, which was a sharp slowdown from a nearly 17% jump the previous year due to a decline in visitors from Britain, its biggest market.

Portugal's tourist numbers have risen uninterruptedly for eight years and the sector has been a powerful growth engine as the country exited a 2011-14 debt crisis.

But the government has shown concern that Brexit could hurt Portugal's tourism sector, and earlier this year, Lisbon launched a campaign to attract British tourists.

Data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed that the number of British tourists fell 5.3% in 2018 from a year earlier. There was also a drop among German visitors.

A weaker pound is potentially making destinations outside the euro zone, such as Turkey, more attractive.


On the other hand, Portugal received more visitors from North America, Spain, Brazil and China, with a 24% increase in the number of tourists who came from the United States in 2018, the data showed.

Stay Statistics

Last year, the number of guests staying in hotels and other types of accommodation grew to 25.2 million, and overnight stays stood at 67.7 million, which were increases of 5.1% and 3.1%, respectively, compared to 2017.

Growing 6.5% in 2018, the domestic market generated 19.9 million overnight stays. But overnight stays of external markets only increased 1.8%, which was significantly less than the 12.2% increase reported the previous year, signalling that the tourism boom is slowing.

2017 Gross Domestic Product Contribution

The total contribution of travel and tourism to Portugal's gross domestic product reached 17.3%, or €33.5 billion, in 2017, according to the International Tourism Association.

Portugal's INE estimates are more conservative, putting the tourism sector contribution towards the country's GDP in 2017 at 13.7%. Data for 2018 is not yet available.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.