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Portuguese tourism – facing the crisis

Sérgio Palma Brito (Lisbon, Portugal)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 10 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is address two questions: “Did the context of economic crisis affect the image of Portugal as a tourist destination? And What were the answers and lessons learned?”.


The authors have no information to assess the effect of the crisis on the brand image of Portugal as a tourist destination. The paper limits itself to what is a first step in this assessment and assumes that periods of low demand for destination Portugal are linked in some way to the economic crisis. The paper examines the UK market demand for holiday travel to Portugal from 2009 to 2013 and additionally the revenue contribution from tourism to Portugal’s balance of payments. The data are analyzed in the context of two decisions relating to Portuguese tourism governance: the anti crisis measures of 2009 and the new model for tourism promotion of 2013.


The paper assumes that during the period 2009-2013 the demand for Portuguese tourism was not affected by the crisis and, if any damage has been done to the international brand image of destination Portugal, its consequences are not dramatic. In fact, the demand for destination Portugal in the UK market remained strong and is higher than the market as a whole. The same applies to destination Greece and the decline in demand for destination Turkey seems to be linked to social and political crisis in the country. Given this context, it is interesting to note that revenue from travel and tourism in Portugal achieved a growth rate that had not occurred before in the recent past.

Research limitations/implications

The scope for analyzing empirical data is limited to the statistical information for Tourism in Portugal. However, it is possible to identify patterns of demand behavior of demand that help provide clues to the variations in tourism flows.

Practical implications

In 2013, the index of overnight stays and income to the Portuguese hospitality industry exceeded that of 2009, but the index of average revenue per overnight stay at current prices was still lower than that of 2009. It would appear that the anti-crisis measures that the government took in 2009 had little or no impact nor do the changes to the tourism promotion Model in 2013 reveal why the Government considered 2013 to be “the best tourist year ever” or in 2014 “an historic year”.


The paper provides a bottom-up perspective, based on observation, measurement and analysis.



Brito, S.P. (2014), "Portuguese tourism – facing the crisis", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 6 No. 5, pp. 442-451.



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