Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism believes that tourism revenues will grow by four to five percent this year, compared to 2019, given the “very vigorous” recovery of the sector, although the “highly deteriorated” balance sheets of companies will still take a few years to strengthen
“Tourism has been, as is known to all, recovering in a very vigorous way compared to the metrics we know, namely in 2020, 2021, which were very difficult years. At this point, we are recovering and are approaching the metrics of 2019 in great strides, and we are confident that we can even exceed the tourism revenues observed in 2019,” said the secretary of state for tourism, trade and services, in an interview with Lusa on the occasion of World Tourism Day, which is celebrated this Tuesday, 27 September.
Rita Marques recalled that when the Reactivate Tourism plan was presented a year ago, it was believed that 2022 could approach, or “even exceed”, the revenues of 2019. At this point, and “being practically at the end of the year, we understand that we have all the possibilities to exceed 2019,” she reinforced.
In 2019, a record year for national tourism activity, Portugal achieved tourism revenues of more than 18 billion euros.
In July, according to Presstur’s accounts from Bank of Portugal data, tourism revenues reached 10.83 billion euros, an amount that exceeds by 1.151.22 billion the same period of 2019, pre-pandemic, and exceeds by 7.280.97 billion the same period last year.
“At this point, we estimate [a growth] in the order of 4 to 5 per cent above 2019,” she said when asked about the executive’s expectation.
Despite the recovery, the ruler admits to being “perfectly aware that a large part of the productive fabric of the tourism sector is in a weakened situation”. This is proven by the balance sheets.
“We are well aware that we are facing highly deteriorated, weakened balance sheets, resulting from complete inactivity in 2020 and 2021 and, therefore, we will surely need a few years to ensure that these companies can be capitalised and strengthened,” said Rita Marques, adding that, “even so, it should be noted that this year has been very positive for the companies and has also been useful to strengthen cash flow, which was also very deteriorated as a result of the pandemic that we experienced.
On the creation and bankruptcy of companies in the sector, the secretary of state for tourism says that if during the pandemic years there was “a stabilisation in terms of the creation of new businesses”, now we are facing “an acceleration”, which also confirms “the adjustment” to the dynamics of 2019.
“We are practically on the same record as 2019, with many new companies being created, very few ‘dying’ and therefore we are also confident with these signs that are made clear to us, through the monitoring by Turismo Portugal (the country’s tourist board) too,” she said.
On whether the government intends to launch new measures to address the latest challenges such as increased costs for companies, Rita Marques recalled that the “very ambitious” Reactivate Tourism plan, with 6 billion euros, already includes measures for the capitalisation of companies, “to also better manage cash flow issues”, as a result of the pandemic, and which is underway.
“We, at this point, have a large part of the measures in execution. […] And, therefore, we are very focused not on the creation of new measures, but on the implementation of measures that were announced and that, I believe, also respond to the challenges of the sector,” she stressed.