© Algarve Tourism - Lagos
Lagos Photo: © Algarve Tourism

Algarve beaches continue to reign supreme in Europe

Portugal was showered with prizes at the European edition of the World Travel Awards, being hailed Europe’s leading destination and bringing home dozens of ‘tourism Oscars’. Also, for the 10th time and fifth year in a row, the Algarve has been named ‘Europe’s Leading Beach Destination’.

The announcement came on Friday in Batumi, Georgia, which hosted the WTA Europe Gala Ceremony.

It was a splendid night for Portugal, with dozens of awards coming its way, including the coveted ‘Europe’s Leading Destination’.

Other highlights included Lisbon being named ‘Europe’s Leading City Destination’, Porto being crowned ‘Europe’s Leading City Break Destination’ and Madeira receiving the title of ‘Europe’s Leading Island Destination’.

Portugal’s flagship airline, TAP, currently in the middle of a privatisation process, brought home two awards: ‘Europe’s Leading Airline to Africa’ and ‘Europe’s Leading Airline to South America’.

Lisbon was also awarded for being ‘Europe’s Leading Cruise Port’, while the famous Passadiços de Paiva boardwalks in Arouca were voted as ‘Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction’. Quake – Lisbon Earthquake Center was elected ‘Europe’s Leading New Tourist Attraction’.

© Algarve Tourism - Praia da Falésia
Praia da Falésia
Photo: © Algarve Tourism

Several hotels and resorts in Portugal were also honoured with accolades at the gala ceremony.

In the Algarve, Vale do Lobo was elected ‘Europe’s Leading Lifestyle Resort’; Dunas Douradas Beach Club in Almancil was granted the title of ‘Europe’s Leading Resort Villas’; Cascade Wellness Resort in Lagos was hailed ‘Europe’s Leading Sport Resort’; Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort was named ‘Europe’s Leading Villa Resort’; and Monte Santo Resort in Carvoeiro was dubbed ‘Europe’s Most Romantic Resort’.

Other national winners included Madeira’s Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive (Europe’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort) and Saccharum (Europe’s Leading Island Resort) and Lisbon’s Verride Palácio Santa Catarina (Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel), Bairro Alto Hotel (Europe’s Leading Landmark Hotel), Valverde Hotel (Europe’s Leading Luxury Boutique Hotel), Pestana Palace Lisboa (Europe’s Leading Luxury Business Hotel).

Elsewhere in Portugal, the Alentejo also celebrated a few accolades, with Dark Sky Alqueva in Reguengos de Monsaraz being handed ‘Europe’s Responsible Tourism Award’ and L’And Vineyards in Montemor-o-Novo receiving ‘Europe’s Leading Wine Region Hotel’.

National companies were also awarded, with prizes such as ‘Europe’s Leading River Cruise Company’ going to DouroAzul and ‘Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel Operator’ going to Amazing Evolution.

The Algarve’s tourism boss André Gomes celebrated the region being recognised once again as Europe’s best beach destination, stressing that “it is an honour to receive this distinction for the 10th time.

© Algarve Tourism - Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Rocha
Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Rocha
Photo: © Algarve Tourism

“We remain committed to showcasing the natural beauty of the Algarve to travellers. As such, this award recognises the work of all the tourism professionals in the region who, through their dedication and professionalism, contribute daily to making this the best beach destination in Europe,” said Gomes, president of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA) and Algarve Tourism Association (ATA).

The Algarve has won the award consecutively since 2019, having also been crowned Europe’s top beach destination in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

“The beauty and diversity of the scenery that the region’s beaches offer along 200 kilometres of coastline – from extensive cliffs to hidden coves – combined with the sun and mild temperatures throughout the year, continue to delight sea lovers. Whether it’s sunbathing, strolling on the beach, surfing or diving, or sailing along the coast, the Algarve offers water-based proposals and activities for all tastes,” the Algarve Tourism Association says.

The World Travel Awards were established in 1993 to “acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

“Today, the WTA brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire. Each year, WTA covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective success within each key geographical region,” the WTA website says.

The full list of winners from the European edition of the WTA can be found online.

© Algarve Tourism - Vale do Lobo
Vale do Lobo
Photo: © Algarve Tourism

Record-breaking August

There was more good news for Portugal’s tourism sector last week. The country’s accommodation sector registered its highest monthly figures ever in August, with 3.5 million guests and 10.1 million overnight stays representing year-on-year growths of 4.8% and 1.4% respectively, INE announced on Friday.

Compared to August 2019, there were increases of 6.3% in guests and 4.9% in overnight stays.

Overnight stays in hotels (79.8% of the total) recorded a slight increase (+0.3%; +3.2% compared to August 2019), while overnight stays in short term rents (14.9% of the total) grew by 6.8% (+6.0% compared to August 2019) and those in rural and residential tourism (5.3% share) increased by 4.4% (+33.8% compared to August 2019).

In August, overnight stays from residents fell by 6.9% to 3.5 million and those from non-residents grew by 6.4% to 6.6 million.

Among the seventeen main inbound markets (88.6% of total overnight stays from non-residents), the United States and Canada continued to stand out, recording the biggest increases (+28.9% and +27.5% respectively) compared to August 2022.

In the month under review, the Algarve accounted for 31.3% of overnight stays, followed by Área Metropolitana de Lisboa (21.2%) and the North (17.1%), with the biggest increases in the North (+5.4%), Azores (+4.5%) and Centre (+4.1%), and decreases in the Algarve (-1.9%) and Madeira (-1.2%).

The net bed occupancy rate in tourist accommodation establishments (66.6%) fell by 2.2 percentage points in August, while the net room occupancy rate (73.6%) fell by 1.3 percentage points.

From January to August 2023, overnight stays increased by 12%, +2.4% for residents and +16.9% for non-residents.

In August, 10.4% of tourist accommodation establishments were closed or had no guests (11.9% in July).

By Michael Bruxo
[email protected]