Portugal lost almost 17 million tourists to the pandemic

  • ECO News
  • 1 February 2021

After a record 27 million tourists in 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic brought sharp falls in 2020.

After 2019 represented the best year ever for tourism, with a record 27 million tourists, the pandemic has thrown this sector into deep decline. Losses of over 60% were already expected and were confirmed over the months. 2020 saw only 10.5 million tourists, 61% less than the previous year, according to a flash estimate by the National Statistics Institute (INE).

The pandemic’s impact on tourism has been noticeable month after month, with the sector recording losses of around 80%. However, in December, there was a “slight recovery”, says INE. In the last month of last year, the sector is expected to have totalled 462,500 guests and 927,700 overnight stays, the equivalent of decreases of 70.7% and 72.3%, below those seen in November (-76.8% and -76.9% respectively).

With 50% of tourist accommodation establishments closed or without guests, the number of residents fell by 53.9% (-58.8% in November) and that of non-residents by 82.9% (-85.5% in November).

Still, this “slight recovery” in December was not enough to prevent deep losses for the sector for the entire 2020. For the whole of last year, INE estimates that tourism counted 10.5 million guests, down 61.2% from 27 million in 2019. In other words, the pandemic has caused the tourism sector to lose around 17 million tourists.

During 2020, 26 million overnight stays were counted, 63% less than in 2019. This figure was mainly contributed by domestic tourists, with 13.6 million overnight stays, while foreign tourists were responsible for 12.3 million.

“It would have to go back to 1993, the year in which 23.6 million overnight stays were registered, to find a smaller number of overnight stays,” says INE

As far as non-residents are concerned, “in the year 2020 as a whole, all major markets recorded significant declines, above 65%. The largest reductions were registered in the Irish (-89.6%), USA (-87.7%) and Chinese (-82.8%) markets.”