Portugal’s travel and tourism sector is set for record-busting 2024

Lisbon: Portugal’s travel and tourism sector is set for a record-busting 2024, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which has called the outlook for the southwestern European nation “exceptionally promising.”

The global forum’s most recent Economic Impact Report, compiled in conjunction with Oxford Economics, says tourism will contribute in excess of €54 billion to the Portuguese economy this year, accounting for 20% of the country’s GDP and up nearly 25% since 2019.

What’s more, over the next decade, and with the Morocco-Portugal-Spain 2030 men’s World Cup in the mix, the Portuguese sector looks poised to expand further to a value of around €66.5 billion, or 22.4% of the total economy, with the addition of a further 260,000 jobs to the 1.14 million people it already employs. The WTTC has hailed the positive trend, predicting “a period of remarkable growth and transformation for Portugal’s Travel & Tourism sector”.

The Portuguese government has put significant investment into travel and tourism and the efforts are paying off, with the sector growing 8.6% in 2023, and international visitor spending up 9.2% to €29.6 billion. Domestic tourists also splashed the cash more, with the Portuguese visitor spend up almost 5% on the previous year to €17.2 billion.

Tourism in Portugal is a pillar of the country’s economy, driving growth and contributing 1.1 million jobs.

But Portugal isn’t the only European nation to be seeing a clear recovery of its travel industry. Serbia (+47%), Bulgaria (+39%), Türkiye (+35%), Malta (+35%) all saw visitor numbers increase by 35% or above, double that of Portugal.

Sector value figures for the EU for the first quarter of 2024 are, like Portugal’s, ahead of pre-Covid benchmark year 2019, having grown 8% in 2023 to €1.65 trillion, employing 23.5 million people. International spending increased by 11.5% to €471.5 billion, close to the pre-pandemic period. Domestic visitor spending grew by almost 5% to €963 billion, surpassing the pre-pandemic level.

This means Portugal is in line with the growth curve for the bloc as a whole but slightly below visitor spending trends across other nations in the bloc.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, commenting on the data and forecasts, said, “Tourism in Portugal is a pillar of the country’s economy, driving growth and contributing 1.1 million jobs. The Government’s efforts to encourage tourism have played an essential role in attracting more visitors to the country, leading to unprecedented growth and opportunities. The permanent flow of tourists from all over the world has resulted in significant economic contributions and Portugal is a top tourist destination, and the future of the sector looks exceptionally promising”.