Monday, 18 February 2013

Tourism Arrivals on the up - North of Portugal

An article into today's national "Publico" newspaper confirms what I've been sensing qualitatively for the past few months! (Article here in Portuguese )

Tourist arrivals and visits to the North of Portugal have been increasing. It is clear from sources such as Trip Advisor Forums and forums that there is increasing interest in non-traditional tourism destinations in Portugal on the part of foreign visitors.

This is very good news for the Lisbon, Costa da Prata, Região Centro, Porto, Minho,  Douro, Madeira and Azores Regions but not such good news for the Southern Algarve Region, Portugal's traditional sun and sand holiday destination.

This development does not surprise me given the following facts:

1) The Algarve has become an "expensive" destination when compared to alternative competitors such as Turkey, Bulgaria and even the Spanish Costa's.
2) The Algarve has become an "expensive" destination when compared to alternative national destinations such as Lisbon and Porto. I spent the week in Porto last week. Hotels are cheaper and good typical restaurant/cafe food is up to 15% cheaper.
3) Although the other regions may not have such a long period of "sunny" months, they offer everything else the Algarve offers and more. Good Portuguese wines and cuisine, good public transport, good accommodation, and a much greater greater range of cultural, historic and "fun" things to do while on vacation.
4) With excellent traditional and low-cost air connections through Lisbon and Porto Airports, an excellent internal bus and train network, and excellent multi-lingual tourism industry workers, the rest of Portugal has gone big time as a great holiday/vacation destination.

The Algarve, well it will always be there but I am afraid than the sheen is rapidly dropping of this once "pearl" of Portuguese and European Tourism and if the local operators and national authorities do not do something soon, it is going to take a decade or so before the Algarve regains its pre-eminent position as the pearl of Portugal's tourism industry.

I leave you with a photo of from the lovely town of Amarante in the North of Portugal taken last week.