Official data revealed that the number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal exceeded eight million between January and June, making it the best first half ever. Tourism in Portugal, one of the main drivers of the country’s economy, accounted for almost 15% of gross domestic product before the pandemic.
The National Institute of Statistics said nearly 8.2 million foreigners stayed in Portuguese hotels, up from 6.3 million a year ago to 7.4 million in the first six months of 2019, a record year for tourism before the Covid-19 pandemic crippled global travel in 2020.
Visitors from the UK accounted for the largest share in the first half, with more than a million visitors, followed closely by Americans and Spaniards.
In June, the United States, which has grown significantly as a source of tourism to Portugal, was already the second largest group of foreign visitors.
INE said the hotel sector recorded 13.6 million guests, including local travelers, in the first half, while total hotel revenues rose 32 percent year-on-year to 2.5 billion euros.
In a separate report, the institute said that the number of passengers who passed through Portuguese airports in the first six months jumped almost 30% year-on-year and rose 12% compared to the first half of 2019.
According to the IATA (International Air Transport Association), international travel this year has reached about 90% of pre-pandemic levels, with visitors from southern Europe leading the recovery.