"We think that the fact that the sector is picking up with this speed can be reflected in the BTL," stresses Dália Palma, BTL's manager.
The organisation of the BTL – Lisbon Tourism Fair is optimistic about the tourism situation, estimating that the largest fair of the sector in Portugal can recover this year the number of visitors of the 2019 edition.
“In terms of public (professionals and general public) the expectation is to return to the 2019 numbers. Recover from the drop we had in 2022 – when we were still in that post-pandemic phase,” said the manager of the BTL, Dália Palma, in an interview with Lusa, without specifying figures.
The 33rd edition of the BTL will take place between March 1 and 5 at the Lisbon International Fair.
In 2019, the number of visitors expected was at least 70,000 people, the then director of the fair, Fátima Vila Maior, told Lusa in March of that year.
On March 25 last year, the BTL organisation indicated that the fair had received 45,569 visitors, between professionals and the general public, a figure below that recorded in 2019, until then the record year for the tourism sector.
Thus, this year, Dália Palma said that the organisation is ” focusing on campaigns to increase the number of visitors, motivating people with the fact that they can buy and take advantage of promotions only available during the period [of the fair]”.
There is also “an extra motivation” with the award of several trips as prizes, she explained.
The project manager – who is confident that this year’s edition will be “one of the best ever”, with the exhibition area all occupied and the largest number of foreign destinations (75) already confirmed – says she is optimistic, given the sector’s much higher-than-expected recovery in 2022.
“We think that the fact that the sector is picking up with this speed can be reflected in the BTL,” she stresses.
Asked whether she expects different results in this first edition without restrictions, she denies it. “I think that behaviour has returned to the pre-pandemic. The tourism sector was the one that quickly wanted to forget the pandemic”, she explained.
On whether she fears that the economic climate – namely the inflation rate and high interest rates – could be a ‘cloud’ overshadowing the sector’s expectations, particularly of holiday shopping for the summer, the BTL manager downplayed this.
“We don’t have that forecast. What we feel from the exhibitors is a huge will to be at the event, to invest. They are very optimistic about this year and the forecasts, even the chairmen of the regional entities, are – despite some caution – optimistic. We felt this at the BTL”, she stresses.
Another good indicator of optimism is “the very positive feedback” from the International Tourism Fair of Madrid (FITUR), one of the largest in the world, which was held recently and “was already at the level of 2019”, Dália Palma pointed out.
BTL has a partnership with the FITUR, so it was represented with a ‘stand’ in Madrid and FITUR will be at BTL. “We have a good relationship with FITUR”, she assured.
Tunisia is the BTL’s international guest destination this year, Centre Tourism board the national guest destination and Aveiro the invited local authority.