American tourists continue to set new records in Portugal
Lisbon is the preferred destination among American holidaymakers (Photo by Lisa Fotos/Pexels)

American tourists continue to set new records in Portugal

There have never been so many American tourists in Portugal

Over 204,000 American tourists visited Portugal in September, the highest number ever recorded in a single month, according to the latest data revealed by the National Statistics Institute (INE).

In fact, USA accounted for the third largest number of tourists visiting Portugal from a single country in September, behind only the UK (262,000) and Spain (213,000).

Further data shows over 1.1 million American tourists have travelled to Portugal between January and September, an increase of around 200,000 compared to the same period in 2019 – the last ‘normal’ tourism year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The investment that Turismo de Portugal (national tourism authority) has made in the American market has led to big results, without a doubt,” the vice-executive president of the Portuguese Hotel Association (AHP) told online newspaper Dinheiro Vivo.

Americans have discovered us and discovered us strongly,” Cristina Siza-Vieira added.

The growth of the American market has been a quick one, with data showing that the number of Americans visiting Portugal grew 52% from 2017 to 2019.

The uncertainty of the post-pandemic period left tourism and hotel bosses expecting that it may take some time for international markets to recover, but this has not been the case with American holidaymakers, who started breaking arrival records in March.

José Theotónio, CEO of the Pestana Group, said Portugal has been able to woo a considerable number of returning American visitors.

“For the American market, Portugal did not exist until a few years ago. It was seen as a province of Iberia,” he told Dinheiro Vivo, adding that Portugal has been able to increase its notoriety.

“We started attracting more tourists and are now known for our Portuguese destinations in that market,” Theotónio added.

INE data shows that Lisbon is the preferred destination among American holidaymakers, accounting for 1.1 million overnight stays in the first eight months of the year. The North region follows in second with 393,000, ahead of the Algarve with 258,000.

Overnight stays by foreigners still below 2019

Despite the amazing growth of the American market, Portugal is still trying to catch up with the record-breaking tourism numbers it achieved in 2019.

Portugal has registered 61.3 million overnights stays in the first nine months of 2022, numbers which are still 6.3% below the record set in 2019.

While big markets such as UK, Spain, Germany and France have yet to reach the same numbers they did before the pandemic, there are other markets which continue to grow such as Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland and Denmark, all of which have already surpassed the total number of holidaymakers registered in 2019.

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com