With the 2021 data almost completed, figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE) show that, from January to November, the Algarve and Madeira registered more overnight stays from residents than in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, which shows a preference of the Portuguese for these two regions when it comes to vacationing in national territory, a reality accentuated by the restrictions of the pandemic.

Between January and November 2021, with the vaccination process and a lower level of restrictions mainly during the second semester, there were more overnight stays from residents in the Algarve than in the same period of 2019 (5.13 million versus 4.8 million), which suggests that the Portuguese exchanged trips abroad (still conditioned by Covid-19) for more trips to the Algarve.

The same happened in Madeira: there were more overnight stays from residents between January and November 2021 (slightly over one million) than in the same period of 2019 (887 thousand).

“Compared with the month of November 2019, only RA Madeira showed a growth (+0.8%) in the number of overnight stays (+23.7% in residents and -2.0% in non-residents)“, notes the statistics office in the statement released about tourist activity in Portugal in November.

However, this did not happen in the other regions. In the North, in the Centre, in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, in the Alentejo and in the Azores, overnight stays from residents last year continued to be below the values ​​recorded in 2019, despite having recovered significantly compared to 2020.

Foreign tourists

More dramatic is the situation in the sector with regard to overnight stays for non-residents. More foreign tourists came to Portugal in 2021 than in 2020, but the numbers are still significantly below the values ​​recorded in 2019. For example, in the Algarve, the number of overnight stays spent by non-residents in 2021 corresponds to a third of the value of 2019. Madeira, corresponds to half.

Hence the importance of residents for the recovery of tourism. According to INE data, “between January and November 2021, overnight stays from residents accounted for 50.7% of the total, significantly above the share seen in 2019 (29.8% of the total)“. In other words, half of the overnight stays in Portugal correspond to residents, partially filling the “gap” left by the lack of foreign tourists.