Economy Minister crowns tourism “champion of economic recovery”

“Tourism is the champion of economic recovery” – the words came from Portugal’s Minister of Economy António Pires de Lima last week, only a day after it was announced that Portugal had climbed 15 spots in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2014-2015.
Speaking after a visit to three tourist-oriented companies in Lisbon – BikeBarTours, Adapted&Senior Tours and Lisbon Segway Tours – the minister said that Portugal’s “leap in competitiveness” should be attributed to the “capacity and merit of the Portuguese people and entrepreneurs”.
Their efforts, he said, have led to the opening of many new companies, especially in the tourism sector.
“There are many sectors that are contributing positively, but it has been the tourism sector that has made the biggest difference as is proven by the 11% growth registered in the first half of this year, which I’m confident will continue in the second half,” the minister stated.
According to Pires de Lima, Portugal is becoming an increasingly “interesting” destination, “which is worth more than just one visit”.
This is largely due to the work of tour operators offering leisure activities, he said, which have had a “fundamental role” in the country’s improving popularity.
Data cited by the minister shows that in the first eight months of 2014, the number of these tour operators increased 28% compared to last year.
Pires de Lima said the increase was mostly due to the Government’s effort to “make life easier for entrepreneurs” and “do away with bureaucracy”.
“This entrepreneurship helps increase and maintain the virtuous cycle of Portugal’s tourism – which is today a true international champion,” he reiterated.
“We are growing much more than other countries with whom we compete in Southern Europe, and that is mostly due to the excellence of our destinations and the sector’s entrepreneurs”.
It was only last month that Portugal won 16 out of 40 World Travel Awards – considered to be the tourism sector’s equivalent of the Hollywood Oscars.
Among winners were Conrad Algarve (Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort), Turismo de Portugal (Europe’s Leading Tourist Board), Lisbon (Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination) and TAP Portugal (Europe’s Leading Airline to Africa/South America).