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Windfall from surge in tourism helps debt heavy Portugal

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s fragile economy is getting a tonic from tourism this year, with revenue up by more than 10 per cent through October including a 20 per cent jump in visitors from the United States.

Tourism minister Ana Mendes Godinho says the sector brought in some 11 billion euros ($11.5 billion) in the first 10 months of 2016 — about 1 billion euros more than the same period last year.

Mendes Godinho said in a statement Wednesday that the number of French visitors increased by almost 18 per cent. Only the U.S. posted a bigger increase.

Portugal’s mid-Atlantic Azores Islands posted the strongest growth, with a 30 per cent increase.

The government hopes Portugal’s economy will grow 1.2 per cent this year. Government debt is 133 per cent of GDP, one of the European Union’s highest.

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