Lisbon Tourism estimates that this year, the travel and tourism sector will reach 85% of the 2019 tourism figures in the city, and eventually return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. There is now, however, some uncertainty generated by the war in Ukraine. Vítor Costa, director of the Lisbon Tourism Association, said that these prospects depend on some variables, especially the impact that the war in Ukraine may have. He gave the example of fuel prices, which are reflected in the cost of air travel. Due to its geographical location, Lisbon is a tourist destination very dependent on air transport.
When there is an economic crisis, the first thing people cut back on is travel and the first thing companies cut back on is marketing.Vítor Costa, director of the Lisbon Tourism Association
Costa highlighted the weight of two types of segments in Lisbon’s tourism, “leisure tourism” (with the so-called short breaks, short stays in the city) and business tourism, linked to congresses or company presentations.
The outlook of the Lisbon Tourism Association for 2022 and 2023 follows the recovery that has already been recorded in 2021, when there was a 30% recovery in activity compared to 2020, although the indicators still showed a 58% drop compared to 2019, i.e., the values before the beginning of the pandemic.
Tourism in Lisbon will still not reach the pre-Covid-19 figures this year because of the impact that the last wave of the pandemic had in January and February. Costa pointed out that the impact of the pandemic in the city was greater than in other regions of the country and in other European cities with similar offerings because of the dependence on air transport – used by 90% of visitors – and the product structure.
The outlook that I have is that there is optimism because we are seeing customers coming backVítor Costa, director of the Lisbon Tourism Association
“We are now at a stage where there is a recovery mainly because of Lisbon’s positioning, the willingness to travel and the savings that consumers made during the pandemic period. Now the business tourism segment is also responding in a favorable way,” he said.
According to Costa, in both segments there are indicators that suggest a faster recovery than what was expected. During the pandemic, “the prestige and positioning of the Lisbon brand, in international terms, was not only confirmed but also consolidated.” He underlined that consumers of the international markets that send tourists reveal “a great willingness to travel” after two years of restrictions.
The director of the Lisbon Tourism Association stressed that the municipal and government support during the pandemic were essential for the survival of companies in the sector, very much based on tens of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises. There is only “one way to solve” the recovery, he noted, which is “with customers”, so it is necessary “that there is resumption of activity.”
Vítor Costa was summoned by the Economy, Innovation and Tourism Committee of the Lisbon Municipal Assembly as part of the work for the preparation of the Report on the Economic Recovery of Lisbon in the Post-Pandemic.