By: Chris Graeme
THE TOURISM industry generates employment, creates economic prosperity and accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s business turnover. Portugal alone saw tourism industry profits increase by an astonishing 7.3 per cent in 2006 while tourism worldwide is currently growing at a healthy four per cent average per year.
On Friday May 11, a two-day summit involving hundreds of international movers and shakers in the tourism industry descended on the capital Lisbon to discuss strategies for the industry’s future.
Geoffrey J.W Kent, the chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said that the events of September 11 had set back the tourism industry. However, four years later, the industry’s challenge is to maintain returned growth. “People want to travel and today there are new markets in China, India, the Middle East and Africa,” he said. “In 2007, 40 million are employed in tourism worldwide with travel and tourism representing 10 per cent of business turnover.”
Manuel Pinho, Minister for the Economy and Innovation, said that tourism was of “great strategic importance to Portugal and the government was successfully working with business partners such as the golf and hotel resort mogul, André Jordan. “The year 2006 beat all records and, by 2015, we want tourism to grow in Portugal so that it represents 15 per cent of her GNP,” he said.
Pinho said that the government was focusing on quality developments in the Algarve, Porto Santo, Lisbon and the Alentejo coast to attract the affluent visitor. However, it was important to do this while taking on board environmental considerations. “We are breaking barriers in areas such as renewable energy, innovation and renovation. We have sun, beach and golf to count among our advantages,” he added.
Prime Minister José Sócrates said that, after years of stagnation, 2006 had seen a return in tourism growth with 22 million foreign visitors coming to Portugal. “Today, our tourism sector is dynamic while Lisbon has seen the greatest growth in new hotels of all the 27 EU countries,” he said.
Sócrates added that Portugal had been voted best European golf destination while Porto’s international airport had enjoyed one of the highest growths in passenger numbers in Europe. “Our tourism sector is optimistic and confident and I believe we are on the right path with the sector generating five per cent of our GDP and 7.6 per cent of our employment,” he stressed.
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