Travel and Tourism - Portugal - February 2012
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Despite its diminutive size – slightly smaller than the US state of Indiana, Portugal is blessed with a variety of landscapes, from verdant mountains and golden plains to river valleys and 850km of coast. An ancient seafaring nation with a rich history, traditional culture and strong gastronomy, it is popular with visitors combining a cultural trip with a beach holiday and has a safe image as a destination away from the main centres of global terrorism. It is also one of Western Europe’s most affordable holiday spots as well as being the third most sustainable (behind Denmark and Spain in capacity per capita), with green/renewable energies accounting for more than 20% of total energy output.
With these clear competitive advantages, tourism is a priority strategic sector. However, the country nevertheless progressively lost market share in world tourism, to destinations such as Turkey, Hungary, Thailand and Malaysia from 2000-05. According to the 2010-15 revision of the National Strategic Plan for Tourism 2005-2015 (PENT), this was mainly due to its high dependence on four international markets, a high degree of seasonality in tourism and constraints in air connections. Domestic tourism has developed in a sustained manner – in the first five years of the 21st century, the country maintained its market share in revenues, but not its volume of international tourists. The year 2006 marked a turning point for Portugal’s tourism fortunes. Between January and October 2006, international tourism arrivals grew by 8.8%, in comparison with the same period in 2005 and overnight stays by 5.6%.
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