In a characteristically provocative speech, Economy Minister António Pires de Lima has said that Portugal has become a “top tourist destination” because it is “better at welcoming tourists than other countries”. What he did not say – but which everyone imagined he was meaning – was that Portugal does tourism better than Spain.
His statement came during his visit yesterday to Portugal’s promotional stand at Madrid’s International Tourism Fair (FITUR) – just over a week after the secretary of state for tourism declared 2014 was Portugal’s “best year ever” for tourism.
“Portugal is sought after as a tourist destination because its people do a good job receiving both national and foreign tourists. We are good hosts; we are a hospitable and warm nation that knows how to welcome tourists better than other neighbouring nations that compete with us,” Pires de Lima said.
Lusa news agency was quick to point out that the government has been highlighting how tourism has grown “three times more” in Portugal than in Spain for some time.
Data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows an increase of over 10% in all sectors of tourism in 2014 up to November – be it the number of guests, sleepovers or revenue.
It is all thanks to the “extraordinary quality of the work of entrepreneurs, businesses, managers and the private sector,” added Pires de Lima, who stressed that “they never stopped believing and knew how to overcome the country’s toughest moments”.
“Only a country that knows how to be a host and takes joy in receiving visitors is in a condition to keep growing,” he concluded.