Tourism 2017: Portugal’s best in almost every way

Just as the pundits predicted, Portugal’s summer of 2017 was the best in almost every way. More tourists, more nationalities, more expenditure per head and more geographical popularity.

Getting into details, national hotels finished the month of July with 2.2 million ‘guests’, involving 6.9 million ‘sleepovers’ and representing both a 6.1% increase on guests for the same period last year, and a 4.7% increase on the similar number of sleepovers.

June had already registered even greater increases, while overall hotel receipts were up 17% on 2016 (13.1% in July).

Certain ‘niches’ show extraordinary leaps in popularity.

For example, the number of Brazilians choosing Portugal as a holiday destination this year rose on last year’s tally by a staggering 46.2%.

Americans, Italians and Germans were also “up” compensating for the slight fall in Brits put down to the Brexit blip in exchange rates.

Central Portugal too has suddenly come into its own in spite of the horrendous fires that raged in June and July.

According to statistics from INE (national statistics institute), the 13.3% growth of nights slept in hotels in central Portugal for July is three times greater than last year – while other areas show even more positive leaps forwards.

In “absolute terms” Central Portugal registered 626,000 hotel ‘sleepovers’ in July, which was 73.300 more than in June, and largely due to “foreign tourists”.

The sleepover tally is given as a five time increase on the national average, which still saw sleepovers increase by 5.4%.

As for expenditure per tourist, July saw the highest average ever – even beating last August’s final tally which traditionally wins hands down.

Calculations by PressTUR from INE’s latest report indicate that expenditure this July increased 6.6% (roughly €12 per head) in Porto and the north of the country, while elsewhere the jump was in single figures, Madeira for example seeing tourists spending around €8 more per head than last July.

But with all the good news, inevitably comes some bad: 2017’s summer has also seen more deaths from drowning than 2016, with 20 recorded at the country’s coastal and river beaches – a number involving tourists.

Figures vary, depending on time-scale and context. For example, FEPONS (the national lifeguard federation) puts the number of deaths by drowning this year as much higher (54) because it includes drownings of divers at sea (7), drownings in private pools (also 7), in wells (4) and from the start of the year.

The figure of 20 drownings cited by national media covers only those between May 1 and September 14.

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