LISBON, Feb 14 — Bailed-out Portugal welcomed a record number of tourists in 2013, official data showed yesterday, providing a much-needed boost to the crisis-hit economy.
“2013 was a record number in terms of the number of tourists in Portugal and the number of overnight stays. It was crucial for Portugal’s economic recovery,” said Economy Minister Antonio Pires de Lima.
A total of 14.2 million tourists stayed in Portuguese hotels last year, a 4.2-percent gain compared with the same period in 2012.
The trend was driven mainly by foreigners, with 58 per cent of overnight stays by foreign visitors — a rise of 8.3 per cent.
Lisbon, the Algarve and Madeira were the most popular destinations.
British, German and Spanish visitors were the most frequent but French tourists spent the most (€1.5 billion or RM6.8 billion).
In total, foreign tourists ploughed more than €9 billion into the Portuguese economy in 2013.
“These figures are historic, all the more so since we achieved them in a particularly difficult environment,” the minister said.
Battered by the eurozone debt crisis, Portugal was forced to go hat in hand to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for a €78 billion bailout in return for sweeping economic reforms and cuts.
The situation has since improved and Lisbon hopes to exit the programme in May. — AFP-Relaxnews