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Portugal Welcomes Record 20 Million Visitors in 2017

Why It Rates: Portugal is hot right now, and doesn’t seem to be cooling off anytime soon.—Michael Schottey, TravelPulse Director of Digital Content.


Portugal is being re-discovered. The country welcomed a record of more than record 20 million visitors in 2017, with 685,000 from the USA, a record high also.

The country ended last year with more than 15 billion euros ($18.5 billion) in tourism revenue, which represents an increase of 23.6% over 2016, and a daily expenditure of 41 million euros ($50 billion). Tourism and travel revenues currently account for 10% of Portugal’s gross domestic product (GDP), up 2.7% from last year.

A preliminary report for the Portuguese tourism industry shows that hotels in 2017 welcomed 20.6 million guests with 57.5 million overnight stays, a jump of 8.9% — and 7.4%, over the record number from last year reported by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Foreign overnight stays accounted for 72.4% of total overnight stays, compared with 71.5% in 2016.

Both Lisbon and Porto are expanding to meet the increased demand with 61 new hotels and 23 remodeled hotels to be launched in 2018. Overall, Portugal’s two largest cities are expecting 4,770 new rooms, according to Association of Hoteliers of Portugal (AHP). In 2017, 44 new hotels were built in Portugal, with a further 20 remodeled.

This year Portugal will also see the most non-stop flights from the US ever – with as many as 91 flights per week in peak season, on five airlines, from nine cities across the US. Portugal’s national carrier, TAP Air Portugal, flew a record 14.25 million passengers in 2017, doubling its flights from the U.S. in 2017 from 2016.

In 2018, United Airlines will be adding a daily nonstop flight between Newark and Porto, from May 4 to October 3. Delta will add daily service between Atlanta and Lisbon and five times a week service between New York/JFK and Ponta Delgada in the Azores, both from May 24 through September 4.

Portugal is considered to be one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe and home to numerous world heritage sites. The country’s relatively small size allows visitors to cover a great portion of it by bike to explore its heritage sites, traditions, food, and natural beauty. Portugal is home to a diverse offering of beaches, valleys, mountain ranges, wine regions, and national parks.

VisitPortugal has launched a new web asset, www.portuguesetrails.com, dedicated to promoting the offerings for cyclists and hikers and assist in planing their trips. With a mild year-round climate, activities for cyclists and hikers are growing in Portugal every year. Popular walking trails include Caminhos de Santiago (St. James Way), Rota Vicentina in the Alentejo region, and Via Algarviana in the Algarve, which connect. Also popular are the unique Levadas in Madeira and trails in the Azores.


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