THE CREDIT crunch and fears of recession are causing the Portuguese to think twice before booking holidays abroad.
According to the latest estimates, holiday bookings are likely to suffer a fall of six per cent in 2009 based on estimates for the last quarter.
António Loureiro, Director-General of tourism distribution and booking company, Galileo, which holds 87 per cent of the national market, booking numbers have been steadily falling since June.
“The fall in business could stabilise in the second half with a recovery in long-distance holidays,” he said at the end of the Portuguese Tourism and Travel Association Congress (APAVT), which took place in Macau last week.
World financial instability is causing the travel and tourism industry to contract worldwide while the Portuguese were likely to choose short destination city breaks and competitive holiday packages.
Jean Claude Baumgarten, President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), said that recovery would be seen in the travel industry, which is worth 10 per cent of GDP in developed countries, only by 2010.
Despite China being the next major market for tourism, Portugal could weather the storm by capturing niche markets such as golf, horse riding, food and wine.
In anticipation of the downturn, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, Bernardo Trindade, has just announced a package of measures to support TAP Portugal to the tune of a million euros over the next three years on three new routes.
The airline will receive subsidies from Turismo de Portugal (TP), ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal, and the Associação do Turismo de Lisboa (ATL) to launch direct flights to Moscow, Helsinki and Warsaw in June 2009. These three new routes are expected to attract 50,000 new passengers to the nation’s airports next year.
Without issuing specific figures, Luiz Mor of the Portuguese Association for Tourism and Travel Agents admitted that TAP receipts had fallen and that although by November TAP had transported eight million passengers it had been in the domestic flights area that the crisis had been most felt.
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