Travel

Americans visit Portugal in increasing numbers

Tuesday Oct 6, 2009
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The Portuguese Institute for National Statistics has released its report on travel to Portugal from May to June 2009, with the news that the total number of U.S. travelers to this European nation increased since 2008 by close to 3%. This is in contrast to an almost 9% drop in U.S. travelers to Europe in general in the same period.

In fact the U.S. was the only major market for Portugal to increase in the first 6 months of 2009, other than Austria. Overall trans-Atlantic traffic was down in July. U.S. visits to Europe for May were down 5.9 percent, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

The U.S. market to Portugal increased in May and June of 2009 by +7.7% and +2.7% in terms of hotel guests. The U.S. became Portugal’s 8th biggest market in this category. In terms of hotel overnights, the market increased in May and June by +1.4% and +2.7%. Total guest revenue saw the U.S. become Portugal’s 6th biggest market with increases in June of +1.5%.

"Overall, the American market is well above average in Portugal when comparing with other markets," said Turismo de Portugal spokesperson Jayme H. Simões. "We were surprised by the increase, and gratified that our hard work in the U.S. is resulting in this kind of growth, in this economic climate."

Portugal had a 40% increase in American visitors over past three years. And in 2008, a report shows that the number of Americans arriving in Lisbon via cruise ships jumped 80% over 2007. American spending in Portugal between 2005 and 2007 jumped 58%.

Portuguese air carrier SATA (Azores Express) reported a record month in August 2009, of 8,287 passengers transported on its 14-airplane fleet, serving North America, Europe, and Portugal.

"In these uncertain times, American travelers are looking for two things--value for the dollar and the value of experience," say Simões. "Portugal is strong on both counts. The country’s mild, year-round climate with its historical attractions, new and classic museums, and wine country make Portugal a memorable place to explore for the American traveler. Even with the exchange rate in Europe, Portugal is one of Europe’s best values.

In 2010 Portugal will open more than 35 new hotels and resorts. Another 80 are under construction or being renovated, many of them with 4- or 5-star ratings following new criteria of sustainability and environmental impact.

Portugal is making rapid advances in development of renewable energy. Ahead of schedule, Portugal’s energy is 42 percent renewable (Portugal’s goal was to achieve electricity provided by 30 percent renewable resources by the year 2010). With travelers becoming increasingly concerned about their environmental footprint, Portugal is an excellent destination for those looking for a ’greener’ vacation option.

Portugal is winning travelers over with its charm, officials say. Its seaside villages, fortified mountain towns and diverse landscapes are combined with a national dedication to quality tourism. More info at www.visitportugal.com.

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