The Mediterranean destination of Portugal is expected to turn out to be the fourth most visited European country this summer says a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which adds that the travel and tourism sector in Portugal is set to drive the national economic recovery. The forecast in WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report (EIR) shows that the sector’s total contribution to GDP could reach nearly EUR 39.5 billion next year, representing 17.4 pc of the total economy.
The report adds that tourist arrivals in the country may not only surpass pre-pandemic levels next year, but could be as much as 4.8 pc higher than the 2019 levels.
The report goes on to say that employment in the sector that had degraded in the past two years due to the pandemic is also estimated to just surpass 2019 levels. The report forecasts that the sector would have more than 3,200 additional jobs, making the total employment in tourism surpass the 1 million mark, just about 10 pc of the country’s total population of 10.3 million.
WTTC’s latest data also reveals that the country’s travel and tourism’s GDP is expected to grow at an average of 3.4 pc annually over the next decade, more than three times the 1.1 pc growth rate of the country’s overall economy, to reach more than EUR 50 billion which is 20.2 pc of the total economy by 2032.
Just like other countries in the world, Portugal’s travel and tourism sector had also been devastatingly impacted by the pandemic in the past two years, but now with the resumption of travel and slow reviving of tourism back in the world, the country is finally showing a strong recovery and by the end of this year the sector’s total contribution to GDP is expected to grow by 54.7 pc to more than EUR 35.8 billion, amounting to 16.2 pc of the total GDP.
WTTC’s partner ForwardKeys, a data aggregation and analysis firm, says that, latest flight booking data has shown a promising summer for Portugal, with it being predicted to be the fourth most popular European destination this summer, with a 179 pc year-on-year increase of international arrivals, and only 9 pc behind pre-pandemic levels.
The data has shown flight bookings overtaking pre-pandemic levels, with bookings from the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, up by 41 pc, 36 pc, 29 pc, and 11 pc, respectively.
“Covid-19 wreaked havoc on Portugal’s travel and tourism, affecting millions of livelihoods and impacting the national economy,” says Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO.
“The future for travel and tourism in Portugal is very optimistic. Growth will outstrip the national GDP and create almost 200,000 new jobs over the decade. The Portuguese government is doing a great job,” Simpson adds.
Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal says that the Portuguese government aims to position Portugal as one of the most competitive, safe and sustainable tourist destinations in the world.
“In the face of this goal, we are happy to partner with WTTC to ensure that tourists and companies know, understand, and are interested in making a commitment to achieving sustainable tourist destinations. For a better planet, a better tourism,” Marques adds.
Portugal’s travel and tourism total contribution to GDP represented 17.1 pc (EUR 37.6 billion) in 2019, plummeting to just 8.7 pc (EUR 17.4 billion) in 2020, halving the sector’s contribution to total economy (53.6 pc).
The sector has also supported more than one million jobs, before the pandemic brought international travel to a complete halt, which resulted in a loss of 160,000 (15.6 pc), falling to 850,000 in 2020.
WTTC’s report says that it was actually in 2021 that the southern European country saw the beginning of recovery for the its travel and tourism sector.
Just last year, the sector’s contribution to GDP had ascended to 32.6 pc year on year, and reached EUR 23.1 billion.
However, the recovery of jobs was slower with just 50,000 travel and tourism jobs created, to reach 900,000.
WTTC says that the sector’s contribution to the economy and employment could have been higher if it weren’t for the impact of the Omicron variant, which has led to the recovery faltering around the world and many countries having to reinstate severe travel restrictions.