Results exceed those of 2019, a record year for tourism
Portugal’s tourism sector enjoyed a return to form in 2022, with revenue from tourist accommodation topping €5 billion.
This represents a 114.7% increase compared to 2021 and a 16.5% increase compared to 2019, the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic which was hailed the best ever for national tourism.
Data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows that tourist accommodation units in Portugal registered 26.5 million guests and 69.5 million overnight stays last year, which represent increases of 83.3% and 86.3% compared to 2021, respectively.
The numbers are even higher (28.9 million guests and 77 million overnight stays) when taking into account camping sites and youth hostels as well – which are not included in the ‘tourist accommodation’ category.
Unsurprisingly, foreigners accounted for most of the guests in tourist accommodation (over 15 million) in 2022 against just over 11 million Portuguese holidaymakers, although the domestic market did represent the majority of guests in December.
INE also reports that the average stay of foreign tourists was longer (around three days) compared to nationals (two).
The month of December stood out in a positive way, with 1.6 million guests and 3.7 million overnight stays – representing increases of 44.2% and 44.6% compared to 2021 and 1.9% and 5.5% compared to 2019, respectively.
Algarve leads the way in overnight stays
The Algarve lived up to its reputation as the leading tourist destination in Portugal, being the region with the most overnight stays in Portugal (19.1 million) in 2022. The Lisbon Metropolitan Area followed in second place (17.1 million) while the North region came third (11.5 million).
In fact, every region in Portugal registered increases in overnight stays, with the Lisbon Metropolitan Area standing out with the biggest increase (+132.6%) compared to 2021.
Overnight stays by foreigners “more than doubled in every region”, INE reports, although overnight stays by national tourists did drop 4.5% in the Algarve.
Further data from December 2022 also shows an improvement in terms of total revenue in tourist accommodation (which reached €252 million, a 22.9% increase compared to 2019). This includes revenue from lodging as well as other services such as restaurants and laundry.
Meanwhile, 2023 is off to a great start in the Algarve, which has just celebrated its best January in 20 years (see story on page 16).
Last month, the president of national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal admitted that tourism has recovered “faster than expected” from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a crippling effect on the sector as a whole.
“What we are predicting for 2023 is to continue the growth we had in 2022; obviously, there are many uncertainties, from the war in Ukraine to inflation. But we believe we are in a good position,” Luís Araújo said at the FITUR tourism fair in Madrid, Spain.