When the Tourism Strategy 2027 (ET27) was designed in 2017, it was already expected that the new Lisbon airport would not be ready by 2027, when the aim is to reach €27 billion in tourism revenue.
Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism said on Monday that if the new Lisbon airport was “a situation that has been resolved for many years”, the sector would “probably be an even bigger engine for the domestic economy”, refusing to comment on Santarem as a possible location.
“We need a new airport to resolve the limitations of Lisbon airport, because if we had this situation resolved many years ago, tourism would probably be even greater, it would be an even better engine for the national economy,” said the secretary of state for tourism, trade and services, Rita Marques, in an interview with Lusa on the occasion of World Tourism Day, which falls this Tuesday, 27 September.
However, Marques refused to comment on the inclusion of Santarem in the list of possible locations that will be analysed, after an agreement between the government and the PSD social democrat opposition party on the methodology to be followed until a definitive decision is made on the location of the new Lisbon regional airport.
Also last week, Público newspaper advanced that the Barraqueiro group intends to build an airport in Santarém, a project that has been under study for the past three years, which could be regional, or, if the government follows up, a larger airport.
“I am not keen to make any comment regarding the location of the airport, what I am keen to report is that we need an airport,” the secretary of state for tourism said.
Rita Marques said that when the Tourism Strategy 2027 (ET27) was designed in 2017, it was already expected that the new Lisbon airport would not be ready by 2027, when the aim is to reach €27 billion in tourism revenue.
The governor stressed that tourism has been trying to live, “unfortunately, with the limitation” that exists at Lisbon airport, “because it is a saturated airport,” and also with the “elasticity” that other airports that do not yet have exhausted capacity allow.
“We have been working with all airlines, also presenting the various locations, presenting the various airport infrastructures and showing that there are advantages in not giving up on Portugal, because Lisbon is saturated, and trying to focus on other locations,” she stressed.
Questioned about the possible sale of TAP to a large aviation group, Rita Marques stressed that what is needed is “a strong TAP”.
“If it is through privatisation, if it is through nationalisation, in short, it is not up to me to give an account of which is the preferred path. We will have various colleagues in the Government who will speak on the subject with much more propriety. It is only up to me to state that we want a strong TAP, which can help our tourism, so that we can help Portugal,” she said.
The Secretary of State recalled that TAP is a “fundamental” airline for the sector she oversees, as it transports 30% of tourists arriving in the country, particularly in the United States and Brazil, and so “there is great concern about maintaining the excellence of the service and ensuring that TAP has adequate coverage”.