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Portugal

PORTUGAL - Tourism

Nuno Fazenda

Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce & Services, Portugal

Bio

Nuno Fazenda is Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce & Services of Portugal.

"Until August 2023, Portugal achieved record levels of overnight stays (+9%) and touristic revenues (+39%) compared to the same period of 2019."
The Secretariat of Tourism, Commerce & Services has just helped deliver the best year yet for Portuguese tourism and is committed to making sure things only continue to get better.
With Portugal surpassing its 2019 tourism records in 2023, what strategic initiatives has the government implemented to sustain and foster this growth while ensuring sustainability and authenticity?

Until August 2023, Portugal achieved record levels of overnight stays (+9%) and touristic revenues (+39%) compared to the same period of 2019. To sustain and foster this growth while ensuring sustainability and authenticity means to continue expanding tourism to the entire territory, particularly in the countryside, throughout the year and, at the same time, accelerating the twin transition (climatic and digital) in the tourism sector. To achieve these goals, we are also committed to funding tourism investment projects that demonstrate sustainability across various dimensions, supporting and prioritizing investments in technology, infrastructure, and human resources. Considering that investing in people is also essential to achieve sustained growth, we have been implementing a set of specific measures to valorize tourism professionals, attract more individuals to work in the industry, improve their incomes, enhance the qualifications of these professionals, and embrace diversity, valuing differences. The recent award from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in the category of “Best Tourist Villages 2023,” awarded to the Portuguese villages of Manteigas and Sortelha, among others, is an international recognition of the work that has been done to preserve the socio-cultural authenticity of local communities, namely in the interior, fostering respect for their traditions and ways of life, as well as safeguarding their environmental and cultural heritage.

Given the recent statistics indicating a significant increase in tourist activity and revenue, how is the government collaborating with stakeholders in the hospitality sector to capitalize on these positive trends and further enhance Portugal’s position in the global tourism market?

As a multisectoral activity that covers a diversity of stakeholders throughout its entire value chain, tourism has the power to mobilize other sectors. Therefore, strengthening Portugal’s position in the global tourism market implies an integrated approach that involves governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, local communities, and tourists themselves. We have been working closely with the stakeholders, developing specific tools to requalify the offer and allow better planning and management of environmental risks, financing small businesses and providing support for energy conversion, and improving water efficiency and the adoption of circular economy practices, on top of additional measures, such as recognizing exemplary labor practices and providing training opportunities to either grant or increase financial support.

Can you elaborate on specific measures taken to promote year-round tourism and distribute it evenly across various regions of the country?

The government has launched the Tourism Agenda for the Interior, a concrete policy to promote tourism in the interior regions of the country, with the goal to achieving year-round tourism across the entire territory, enhancing the quality of life for locals, attracting people to the region, and revitalizing the places, traditions, history, and local culture. Additionally, we are committed to the development and promotion of new and differentiated products, which adds value to the territories, such as wine tourism, literary tourism, cultural tourism, art, architecture, and others. Through differentiated tourism experiences, we aim to make Portugal more attractive, particularly to more demanding segments, and fulfill the objective of growing better, throughout the year, and across the entire territory. In addition, we are running a national and international tourism campaign aimed at providing more visibility to these products and regions.

In light of the recovery, could you discuss the role technology and innovation play in shaping the tourism experience in Portugal, and how the government is supporting the integration of these elements into the hospitality sector?

Innovation is an important pillar of the Portuguese Tourism Strategy and this includes the Tourism 4.0 program to promote Portugal as a global innovation hub with four main objectives: foster entrepreneurship as a vehicle for innovation and the creation of new companies; transfer knowledge to companies, connecting producers of innovation and companies that must apply it in their businesses; lead the innovation process, anticipating future changes in tourism; and train companies and human resources in the area of innovation. One of the fundamental pillars of this strategy is the Fostering Innovation in Tourism (FIT) Program, which boosts investment in tourism innovation, involving a network of incubators, investment institutions (starting with our partner Portugal Ventures), and science and tech companies as final beneficiaries of the innovation process. In the six years of this program, investments of more than EUR6 million has made it possible to create a network of 50 incubators. Added to this program is the landmark creation of NEST – Tourism Innovation Center, which has been an integral part of the strategy with its focus on the tourism experience, sustainability solutions, and big data.

Sustainability is a key focus for the future growth of tourism in Portugal. Can you share any specific policies or initiatives the government has implemented to ensure the industry’s sustainable development and minimize its environmental impact?

The Portuguese Tourism Strategy constituted a milestone in tourism policy, placing sustainability at the core of the strategic options. The government developed an action plan that aims to contribute to stimulating the circular economy in tourism, promoting the transition to an economic model based on prevention, reduction, reuse, recovery, and recycling of materials, water, and energy, thus reinforcing the agenda for the circular economy in the tourism sector and placing the tourism ecosystem at the forefront of the climate transition. Additionally, Portugal has engaged regions via the establishment of regional sustainable tourism observatories and there are five already established, which are being integrated into the UNWTO INSTO network. Portugal ranks as the fifth country worldwide with the highest use of renewable energies—60% of the energy produced comes from renewable sources and Portugal was the first country to chart a definitive roadmap for carbon neutrality, pledging to achieve this milestone by 2045, five years ahead of the timeline outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The World Tourism Organization notes a global tourism recovery between 80% and 95% of 2019 levels. How does Portugal’s performance compare to these global trends, and what strategies does the government have in place to address any challenges or capitalize on emerging opportunities in the evolving global tourism landscape?

The tourism sector in Portugal recovered pre-pandemic results in a record time of just over a year and is one of the countries in Europe that recorded the greatest growth compared to 2019 results. In 2022, Portugal reached EUR21.1 billion in revenues, registering an increase of 15% compared to 2019, which represents 16% of GDP and marked the highest tourism numbers the country has ever seen. We trust that the growth of 2023 will be even bigger, so the Portuguese government stands by its mission of growing better, respecting the limits of the planet and its resources, generating value, and achieving long-term sustainability. The linear production and consumption paradigm that prevailed until the 21st century is being replaced by a circular and regenerative one, where nothing is wasted and everything is transformed, producing a positive impact in the territories, environment, and communities. Indeed, sustainability is only the starting point for a new paradigm, the regeneration. Portuguese tourism aims to be at the forefront of this transformation and actively contribute to the five major priorities of humanity: people, planet, prosperity, and peace, aligning its policies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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