After a long and painful lockdown, the Portuguese tourism industry seems to be cautiously recovering. Despite being in the low season, the Algarve – Portugal’s southernmost region – is attracting tourists back, mainly from the UK, France, and Germany.
With 85% of its people being inoculated, Portugal has recently achieved the world’s highest vaccination rate. This is why many Covid-19 restrictions will be soon relaxed. In October, bars and clubs will finally reopen and indoor limited capacity applied in restaurants and hotels will also be relaxed. Additionally, larger groups of people will be allowed to congregate again as well.
After long months of lockdowns and strict measures, now the Portuguese tourism board is optimistic about the upcoming fall and winter months. The Portuguese government has supported the industry with funds to expand the sector. The tourism board wants to differentiate its offer, adding further niche markets, including wine tastings and outdoor vacations.
Moreover, Portugal aims at attracting more digital nomads, as this type of visitors stay for longer periods. Portugal expects its tourism industry to have completely recovered by 2023. However, despite the recent recovery of tourism, hoteliers and restaurant owners have to be patient. The industry still has to face several challenges, including labor shortages. Many Portuguese people are still receiving government financial assistance for Covid-19 and therefore have little incentive to apply for open job positions in the tourism industry. Additionally, because of travel restrictions, skilled workers from abroad have not returned to work in Portugal. Many of them normally hail from Brazil and eastern European countries. As a result, now the entire sector lacks workers.
For most Portuguese residents, tourism represents the main source of income. In normal times, most tourists visiting Portugal during the summer come from Europe, while during the winter and the autumn months the country even attracts people from further abroad, such as the United States and Brazil. Accounting for 10 to 15% of the country’s GDP, the tourism sector is one of the most important industries in Portugal. Due to Covid-19, the industry has registered a sharp decline that hadn’t been witnessed since the 1980s, with the number of vacationers falling by 76% in 2020.