Pandemic slashes Portugal’s tourism by 40% in 2020

  • Lusa
  • 27 April 2020

According to a report by the British consultancy, Portugal is one of the European countries where international tourism has fallen the most in 2020.

Portugal is one of the European countries where international tourism has fallen the most this year due to the pandemic, with a 40% drop in visitor numbers, only surpassed by Spain and Italy, according to an Oxford Economics report.

According to a report by the British consultancy on the impact of Covid-19 on European tourism, seen by Lusa on Sunday and which dates from the beginning of the month, Portugal is expected to see 7 million fewer international entries this year compared to 2019, the equivalent of a 40% drop.

In percentage terms, Portugal is only outpaced by the drop in visitors by Italy (with a 49% drop, 31 million fewer visitors) and Spain (a 42% drop, 34 million fewer visitors), which are the worst affected by the pandemic, in terms of the number of deaths or cases.

In terms of volume, according to Oxford Economics, France is the member state with the greatest drop in international tourist arrivals, with a drop of 40%, the equivalent of 38 million fewer visitors than in 2019.

France, which is also being badly affected by Covid-19, accounts for around 13% of international arrivals across Europe.

Along with Italy and Spain, Portugal is one of the countries where Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is most dependent on tourism, a total of 16.5%, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Another European member state highly dependent on tourism is Greece, where, according to Oxford Economics, the drop in the number of arrivals is 36%, equivalent to 11 million.

Southern Europe is the region most affected by the decline in international tourism, falling 40% in all by 2020, after a 5% growth in 2019.

The British consultant notes in this analysis, the most recent for European tourism, that even where the number of cases of Covid-19 in a country is relatively low, there tend to be similar restrictions on travel and movement, which justifies these sharp falls.

Assuming that Covid-19 affects European tourism for eight months (February to September), among times of confinement and phased lifting of restrictions, this entity estimates a 39% drop in tourism trips to the whole of Europe in 2020, compared to the previous year, the equivalent of 287 million fewer international arrivals.

Still, Oxford Economics noted that the potential duration of travel bans is still quite uncertain, so the figures could change and even worsen if travel restrictions continue and reach the peak of the tourist season, that is, July and August.

And, although a rapid recovery is expected in 2021, international travel levels recorded in 2019 are not expected to be restored before 2023, since the prolonged effects on income will be reflected in tourist movements, it said.

As for domestic travel, it will fall in 2020, but no more than international travel, Oxford Economics estimated, justifying that the restrictions applied here should be lifted earlier.

For Europe, the expected reduction in domestic tourist movements in the region this year is 23%, being more marked in southern Europe (-24%) and western Europe (also -24%) and less evident in central or eastern Europe (-20%), the consultant said.