Visits to Portugal Down 73.7% in 2020

In 2020, the tourism sector was strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. INE warned of unprecedented contraction in economic activity.

The measures to combat the pandemic forced the temporary closure of some establishments, and throughout 2020 there were a series of measures to restrict movement, impacting both residents in Portugal and visitors from the main markets that send tourists to Portugal. According to the Tourism Statistics 2020, published today by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), estimates are that the number of non-resident tourists arriving in Portugal reached 6.5 million, down 73.7% compared to 2019, a year that saw growth of 7.9%.

The main market of origin for international tourists continued to be Spain, with a share of 28.5%, having fallen 70.5% in 2020.

In 2020 there were 11.7 million guests that spent 30.3 million overnight stays, down 60.4% and 61.1%, respectively (+7.4% and +4.3%, in 2019).

According to the INE, tourist accommodation establishments, including hotels, local accommodation and tourism in rural areas/housing, reported 10.4 million guests (-61.6%) and 25.8 million overnight stays (-63.2%). Total income reached 1.4 billion euros (-66.3%) and room nights reached 1.1 billion euros (-66.7%).

The reduction in turnover was not only due to quantity but also to a reduction in prices. According to the Hotel Accommodation Guest Stay Survey, the average revenue per overnight stay decreased by 9.4% to reach 41.7 euros (+3.2% in 2019).

Domestic Travel

Residents in Portugal made 14.4 million tourist trips in 2020, a decrease of 41.1% (+10.8% in 2019). In the period under review, 39.0% of the resident population in Portugal made at least one trip for tourism, a decrease of 14.1 percentage points compared to 2019, for a total of 4 million individuals. Compared to 2019, the record was 1.4 million fewer tourists.

Overall, there was a 9.4% drop in average income per overnight stay in 2020. The number of guests fell by 61.6%, while overnight stays in tourist accommodations declined by 63.2%. According to the study, the largest decreases in the average revenue per overnight stay occurred in May (-31.5%) and April (-28.8%), which were also the months that suffered the largest declines in overnight stays (-96.0% and -97.8%, respectively).

The average return per overnight stay fell 22.1% in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. Regionally, the Alentejo reported the highest average return per overnight stay (48 euros) and the highest growth (+8.6%).

In the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, the average return per overnight stay fell 22.1% to 45.3 euros, the steepest fall among all the regions. Growth was seen in the Centre (+3.4%) and the Algarve (+0.9%). There were declines in the Autonomous Region of Madeira (-2.9%), the North (-13.2%) and the Autonomous Region of the Azores (-14.0%).