Portugal headed for over 17 million holidaymakers this year

Presenting long-term government plans to boost tourism in Portugal, economy minister Pires de Lima has revealed the country is poised to break yet another record this year, with over 17 million people expected to pick Portugal as their chosen holiday destination.

Tourism is riding “the crest of a wave”, with bookings up by 7.5% in the first quarter of the year and takings up by 12% per room, he explained.

But to remain “sustainable” the government has come up with a five-point plan: “Turismo 2020 – Five principles for one aim”.

With its cornerstone headings presented as ‘person, liberty, opening, knowledge and collaboration’, the plan involves a government pledge “not to create any new expenses for the sector without eliminating expenses of a similar value”.

Having said that, however, Secretary of State for Tourism Adolfo Mesquita Nunes explained that borough councils are “not included in this promise”, as they have their own “competences in this material”.

The way forwards, he explained, is for an “informal group of reflection” to include “councils, specialists and regional entities” which would get together regularly to discuss the impacts of tourism on “urban sustainability”.

This new “strategic document” will be available for public consultation for the next 30 days, writes Económico – failing to add that this is the same Mesquita Nunes who devised the new “alojamento local” (local lodging) law that has confused and frustrated holiday renters to such an extent that many have given up trying to become legal altogether.

As a tongue-in-cheek article in algarvedailynews reported recently, most Portuguese renters say the “alojamento local” law only applies to foreigners.

Needless to say, Mesquita Nunes says his latest plan is not “quantitative” but that tourism has the potential to generate more than €13.5 billion per year for Portugal and attract more than 50 million holidaymakers.

In other words, he’s hoping for a lot more “new records” in tourism in the next five years.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]

Photo: Secretary of State for Tourism Adolfo Mesquita Nunes says councils, specialists and regional entities should get together regularly to discuss tourism