The United Kingdom is the main market for tourists to Portugal, accounting for 19.2% of overnight stays by foreigners in 2019 and has recorded successive growth since 2013.
Portugal’s minister of economy, Pedro Siza Vieira, said on Wednesday that the decision of the United Kingdom to leave Portugal out of the list of safe destinations to travel has no scientific basis, even with the criteria that the country chose to follow.
“What is happening in Lisbon and in the rest of the territory are completely different situations, most of Portugal has very low levels of incidence,” he added.
He also stressed that the level of availability of the national health system has never been in stress and always managed to respond to the pandemic.
The United Kingdom is the main market for tourists to Portugal, accounting for 19.2% of overnight stays by foreigners in 2019 and has recorded successive growth since 2013, only interrupted in 2018, according to INE data.
The preferred destinations for British guests were the Algarve (63.4% of market overnight stays), Madeira (18.5%) and the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon (10.8%).
On 3 July, the United Kingdom announced which “international travel corridors” it would resume from the 10th of the month, excluding Portugal from that list.
Portuguese diplomacy has already reacted, considering the UK’s decision to exclude Portugal from the “international travel corridors” as “absurd”, “wrong” and causing “a lot of disappointment”, with serious economic consequences and mutual trust.
At today’s conference, Vieira also said he was convinced that Portugal, “for its ability to present itself to the world as a safe destination”, with a great diversity of landscapes and cultural environments, will return to the centre of consumer preferences.
“During this time, which lasts from here until we recover the flow of travel that we all hope for, it’s very important that we have the capacity to support the thousands of companies, many of them small and medium enterprises, which will have a very reduced turnover during this year, which need to be preserved as much as possible in their knowledge, because that’s what makes a tourist destination successful”, he reiterated.
Vieira said the country had to invest in future competitiveness factors, such as sustainability, digitalisation and qualification of human resources.
“We will continue to invest in the country’s new destinations, nature tourism […], reconverting buildings into parks, […] supporting the conversion of housing units into a system of a more circular economy, greater energy efficiency,” the minister added.