Portugal Sees Record Increase in Visitors from the U.S.

by Barbara Peterson
Portugal Sees Record Increase in Visitors from the U.S.

Travelers are expanding beyond the traditional hot spots of Lisbon and the Algarve to explore the Douro Valley in the North. Photo: Shutterstock.com. 


U.S. vacationers are arriving in Portugal in record numbers in 2019, for the third year in a row, says Luis Araujo, president of the Portuguese National Tourism Authority.

“The word-of-mouth among Americans is huge,” he told Travel Market Report in an interview in New York. 

The number of Americans traveling to Portugal is expected to exceed one million this year for the first time, doubling in less than five years. Last year, trips from the U.S. were up 20% year-over-year, on the heels of a 35% rise the year before.

That reflects a surge in nonstop transatlantic flights to Lisbon and Porto. This year, flag carrier TAP Air Portugal added Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., to its route map; and is increasing flights from its existing U.S. and Canadian gateways in New York, Newark, Boston, Miami, and Toronto. By summer 2020, TAP will operate 71 roundtrips weekly from North America to Lisbon and Porto. 

The nation recently moved up several notches in the World Economic Forum’s travel and tourism competitiveness index, from 14th to 12th place. The survey is a well-regarded measure of a country’s tourism potential, weighing such variables as safety and security, environmental sustainability, and affordability. 

But Araujo insists the country is in no danger of becoming the latest victim of the overtourism syndrome, because travelers are expanding beyond the traditional hot spots of Lisbon and the Algarve to explore the Douro Valley in the North, and other less-developed areas like the Azores archipelago. He pointed out that the country is developing policies to protect local residents from unchecked growth, such as an agreement between Lisbon and Airbnb to promote responsible home sharing and to collect tourist taxes on home stays.

U.S. visitors who might have viewed Portugal as a pitstop on their way to another European destination are now exploring the country in more depth, he said. In addition to the cultural and gastronomic attractions, Portugal is seeing a rise in interest in religious pilgrimage tours, to attractions like the Catholic shrine at Fatima and to Jewish heritage sites. It is also seeing a spike in interest in adventure tourism; the country’s Atlantic coast beaches are a major draw for surfing enthusiasts. Major U.S. tour operators actively promoting Portugal include companies like Collette and Tauck. 

As for the feared fall-off in British tourists, Araujo said that while the numbers may be down slightly, Britons who are coming are spending more in the country. And Portugal has launched a “Brelcome” media campaign to reassure U.K. travelers that they won’t face new border formalities, whatever happens with Brexit, Araujo said. He also said that the collapse of giant tour company Thomas Cook was not having much of an impact on Portugal; the tour operator had already reduced operations in the Algarve region that is particularly popular with British vacationers.

  1
  0
TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
State Department: American Tourists Died of Natural Causes in Dominican Republic

Findings from the FBI are consistent with what local Dominican authorities determined to be the true causes of the fatalities.

Qantas Completes World’s Longest Nonstop Test Flight

The nearly 20-hour nonstop flight from New York to Sydney, Australia, served as a test to see if passengers could stay adequately comfortable and rested on the ultra-long-haul flight.

JetBlue and Norwegian Air Team Up to Expand Transatlantic Network

The proposed partnership will enable passengers flying to Europe and the U.S. to continue to multiple destinations under a single booking.

Airline Ticket Prices Reached Record Low This Month

Now is the perfect time to book your client's next vacation, as October airfares are the cheapest they have been in six years, according to The Consumer Airfare Index.

Delta Launches Subscription Service, SkyMiles Select

The program offers travel perks — including early boarding — for an annual fee.

Canada Warns Travelers to Exercise Caution with High-Pressure Timeshare Sales

The Government of Canada reminds travelers to do their homework when considering buying a timeshare in Mexico.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

"I didn’t understand that they could access these amenities through the buying power of these networks they join. I didn’t realize that an agent could open doors that I couldn’t."

Julia Glum

Money Magazine

Daily Top List

Best Hotels in Detroit

  1. Detroit Foundation Hotel
  2. The Townsend Hotel
  3. MGM Grand Detroit
  4. The Royal Park Hotel
  5. The Henry, Autograph Collection

Source: US News

TMR Outlooks