The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed the travel and tourism sector in Portugal will drive the national economic recovery and could even surpass pre-pandemic levels next year, when it is projected to rise nearly 4.8% above 2019 levels.
The forecast from WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report (EIR) shows the sector’s total contribution to GDP could reach nearly €39.5 billion next year, representing 17.4% of the total economy.
Employment in the sector could also exceed 2019 levels, creating more than 3,200 additional jobs, to reach more than one million by the end of 2023.
According to the global tourism body’s latest data, travel and tourism’s GDP is expected to grow at an average of 3.4% annually over the next decade, more than three times the 1.1% growth rate of the country’s overall economy, to reach more than €50 billion (20.2% of the total economy) by 2032.
The forecast also reveals the travel and tourism sector in Portugal, is expected to create nearly 193,000 jobs in the next 10 years, averaging over 19,000 new jobs every year, reaching more than 1.1 million employed within the sector by 2032.
After the devastating impact of COVID-19, Portugal is showing a strong recovery, by the end of this year the sector’s total contribution to GDP is expected to grow 54.7% to more than €35.8 billion, amounting to 16.2% of the total GDP.
Employment in the sector is set to grow 5.6%, to reach nearly more than 953,000 jobs.
According to WTTC’s knowledge partner ForwardKeys, latest flight booking data shows a promising summer for the southern European country.
Flight booking data shows that Portugal is set to be the fourth most popular European destination this summer, with a 179% year-on-year increase of international arrivals, and only 9% behind pre-pandemic levels.
The data shows flight bookings overtaking pre-pandemic levels, with bookings from the U.S., Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, up 41%, 36%, 29%, and 11%, respectively.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “COVID-19 wreaked havoc on Portugal’s travel and tourism, affecting millions of livelihoods and impacting the national economy.
“The future for travel and tourism in Portugal is very optimistic. Growth will outstrip the national GDP and create almost 200,000 new jobs over the decade. The Portuguese government is doing a great job.”
Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal, said: “Our aim is clear - we want to position Portugal as one of the most competitive, safe and sustainable tourist destinations in the world.
“In the face of this goal, we are happy to partner with WTTC to ensure that tourists and companies know, understand, and are interested in making a commitment to achieving sustainable tourist destinations. For a better planet, a better tourism.”
Portugal’s travel and tourism total contribution to GDP represented 17.1% (€37.6 billion) in 2019, plummeting to just 8.7% (€17.4 billion) in 2020, halving the sector’s contribution to total economy (53.6%).
The sector also supported more than one million jobs, before the pandemic brought international travel to a complete halt, which resulted in a loss of 160,000 (15.6%), falling to 850,000 in 2020.
WTTC’s latest EIR report also reveals that 2021 saw the beginning of the recovery for the country’s travel and tourism sector.
Last year, its contribution to GDP climbed 32.6% year on year, to reach €23.1 billion.
However, the recovery of jobs was slower with just 50,000 travel and tourism jobs created, to reach 900,000.
The global tourism body says the sector’s contribution to the economy and employment could have been higher if it weren’t for the impact of the Omicron variant, which led to the recovery faltering around the world, with many countries reinstating severe travel restrictions.
Portugal’s beach tourism jewel, The Algarve, was vorted World’s Leading Beach Destination 2021 by voters of World Travel Awards.