Inclusion on UK’s green travel list boosts tourism in May, but overnight stays fall 60% compared to 2019

  • ECO News
  • 15 July 2021

The tourism activity continued to recover in Portugal, but continues with significant drops compared to 2019. In May it was the UK's green travel list, which ended soon after, to boost the sector.

Portugal’s tourism sector is recovering but is still far from pre-pandemic levels. In May, tourism activity was higher than in the corresponding month, when the country was still dealing with the first wave of Covid-19. However, compared to May 2019, both the number of guests and overnight stays are down by more than 60%. The main reason is the lack of foreign tourists, which was partly mitigated in May by including Portugal on the UK’s green travel list, according to data from Statistics Portugal (INE).

“The tourist accommodation sector registered 1.0 million guests and 2.1 million overnight stays in May 2021, which compares with 126.6 thousand guests and 261.6 thousand overnight stays in May 2020, when tourism activity was practically at a standstill,” the statistics office writes in the statement released this Thursday, noting that compared to May 2019 the number of guests and overnight stays fell by 62.3% and 68.6%, respectively.

However, when looking at the disaggregated data, there is a significant difference between domestic and foreign demand. With resident tourists, the decline stands at 22.3% compared to 2019 while in the case of non-resident tourists the drop is 83.8%. This difference is justified by the limitations on movement between countries between countries since the start of the pandemic.

Looking at the cumulative tourist activity between January and May, the figures show that 2021 is still below 2020, but this is explained by the fact that in the first two months of last year the impact of the pandemic had not yet been felt. The fall is 48.8% in total overnight stays, divided between a small fall for residents (-3.6%) and a large fall for non-residents (-72.7%).

From this same perspective, but comparing with the period from January to May 2019, overnight stays recorded a 79.7% decrease, which is divided between a 53.3% drop in residents and 90.1% in non-residents, according to INE.

200,000 overnight stays by Britons in May

INE devotes a special box to analysing the impact of Portugal’s temporary inclusion in the list of countries that British nationals could visit without having to quarantine on their return. The very next month, in June, the UK dropped Portugal from this list, making travel between the two countries more difficult.

In May, UK’s green travel list allowed this to be the third month with the highest number of overnight stays by Britons in Portugal since the start of the pandemic, a total of 200.0 thousand, only surpassed by the months of August (217.7 thousand overnight stays) and September (343.0 thousand overnight stays) of 2020.