MORE THAN 500 organisations from Portuguese and foreign tourism sectors were represented at the 17th annual Lisbon Travel Market (BTL), held recently at the FIL exhibition centre.
This year’s BTL marked a departure from the traditional ‘sand, sea and sun’ approach, by offering an explosion of new holiday trends, such as golfing holidays, wellbeing and relaxation breaks, cruise ship destinations and sport-oriented holidays. Everything that could be linked to the holiday industry was represented.
Among the most interesting displays were the eye-catching Brazilian and Estoril Casino stands, the latter complete with blackjack croupiers and roulette wheels!
Brazil and Spain continue to have the largest foreign displays, with Brazil being represented by 52 companies. Spain, for the first time this year, offered information on the regions of Cáceres and Badajoz. Other countries present were Germany, Argentina, Australia, France, Russia, UK, Ireland, India, Tanzania, Japan and Mexico. Angola, Greece and the Czech Republic had stands for the first time.
Portugal is one of the most important golfing destinations worldwide, with the Algarve picking up 47 per cent of the country’s golfers at 29 sites, and Greater Lisbon taking 23 per cent at 14 sites. In fact, Portugal attracts a staggering monthly average of 3,939 golf trips, followed by the UK with 2,656.
The country has also become one of the most important cruise ship destinations in the world, with 264 cruise ships arriving at Lisbon in 2003, which represents a 15 per cent increase compared with 2002 (218).
However, in the more traditional holiday sectors, Portugal has been losing out as holidaymakers snap up cheaper deals in other exotic places, such as Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Mexico, South East Asia and the Caribbean. But the recent tsunami tragedy could mean more tourists returning to European destinations, such as Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Portuguese spread their wings
Despite leaner times, more Portuguese are opting for far-flung shores. In 1993, 247,000 Portuguese booked trips abroad, while, by 2003, that number had reached a phenomenal 853,000 (nearly one per cent of the population).
The current economic recession, coupled with overseas competition, led BTL to develop a so-called Hosted Buyers Programme this year, which attracted to the exhibition dozens of foreign buyers. A series of pre-booked meetings offered Portuguese companies, in the holiday and leisure sectors, the potential to hard sell their products or look for strategic partners and customers from overseas.