Portugal hails ‘essential’ UK trade as visitors boom

British travel agents are helping Portugal towards record-breaking visitor numbers, according to the destination’s tourism chiefs.

This year is on track to surpass 2019’s figure by around 9%, which would take the number to around 2.3m annual visitors.

It comes as Visit Portugal tries to promote areas which are less well-known, including those in the north of the country and the region of Alentejo.

Tourism Portugal president Carlos Abade called the British travel trade “essential”, adding: “The UK is finding new parts of our land and new motivations to fly and visit Portugal.”

Portugal welcomed around 2.1m visitors from the UK in 2019, which was a record, but the numbers are growing as tourism chiefs promote areas in addition to the Algarve, Lisbon and Madeira.

Abade said he wants more people to visit the country for its wine, food, nature and literature.

That message will be pushed at the World Travel Market in November, where Portugal will have its biggest-ever delegation. A total of 110 Portuguese companies are expected to attend, representing hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, airlines and regions.

Abade said: “Portugal is very well-known for its beaches and sun, but we have more than that. This is a country with a lot of different experiences that we can deliver to those who decide to visit us.”

British travellers are already Portugal’s top overseas visitors, but Abade is encouraging agents to log on to Visit Portugal’s training portal and learn more about the country to help boost numbers further. In-person training will also be delivered, he said.

Abade added that he is “confident” that the visitor tally for 2024 will be higher than that recorded this year.

Nuno Fazenda, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, said: “Portugal is a country to visit all year round. We have our flagship destinations, but we also have our fantastic regions that are growing [in popularity].”

Abade and Fazenda spoke to Travel Weekly during the FT Weekend Festival in London, where Visit Portugal was among the partners.

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