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Country Highlights

Portugal and its Economy: Impact of Tourism

Tourism has become hugely important to Portugal’s economy in recent decades, directly contributing over 15% of GDP and supporting more than 800,000 jobs nationwide. Portugal offers visitors a unique combination of beautiful coastlines, rich cultural experiences, and great weather that few other European destinations can match. With strategic investments and marketing, tourism is poised to become an even more dominant economic driver for Portugal well into the future.

Portugal’s top destinations like Lisbon and the Algarve region attract millions of tourists annually, but efforts are also being made to expand tourism development to less visited regions to stimulate balanced regional growth and alleviate overcrowding issues in major cities. Lisbon alone welcomes over 4 million visitors per year drawn to iconic landmarks like Belém Tower and exploring the historic neighborhoods of Alfama and Bairro Alto filled with colorful buildings and winding alleyways. However, other cities are also establishing themselves as destinations in their own right.

Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, has emerged as a top destination in recent years with its historic center filled with medieval architecture and bridges spanning the Douro River. Port wine tours have become a major attraction, and cruise ships are increasingly using Porto as a destination on Mediterranean itineraries. Further north, the scenic Minho region and Gerês National Park see increasing eco-tourism as visitors enjoy activities like hiking, biking, and river rafting. Coimbra, home to Portugal’s oldest university dating back to 1290, also attracts more cultural tourists drawn to its well-preserved historical sites.

In addition to sun and beach resorts along the Algarve coast that generate the highest tourism revenues, new products are being developed to diversify Portugal’s offering. Golf, wellness retreats capitalizing on Portugal’s mild climate, agri-tourism on family-owned farms, and cultural festivals have grown into important niche sectors. Events celebrating Portuguese traditions like Fado music draw large crowds and put smaller cities in the spotlight. Cruise ships are also increasingly using Lisbon and Porto as destinations, with over 1 million passengers stopping annually.

While economic crises and the COVID-19 pandemic dealt temporary blows to visitor numbers and businesses, Portugal’s tourism industry has proven remarkably resilient. With continued investment and strategic marketing of new attractions, Portugal is well-positioned to cement its role as a leading global destination. If air and sea connectivity expansion continues alongside infrastructure upgrades, tourism’s contribution to GDP and jobs nationwide is expected to grow substantially. The country’s unique cultural and natural assets give it strong potential to further develop sustainable and balanced tourism across its diverse regions for decades to come.

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Featured Reports

Understand the macroeconomic situations that affect the global positioning of countries.

Businesses can better understand how chatbots can advocate their vision.

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