It looked a bit optimistic at the time, yet the potential was clearly here. Southern Spain and Portugal were the obvious candidates.

I met with the then president of the Algarve Tourist Board back in 1977 when I started publishing. He told me, we are not going to make the same mistakes as Spain.

It’s been a bit touch and go since then, but this ‘dream’ was achieved and the Algarve is winning this ‘prize’ hands down. Before you reach for pen and paper to disagree with me, think about it. We have some natural advantages over Spain, we have the clean Atlantic. Second, and this is much more important than you may think, we avoided ‘strip’ development along the coast. Along most of the Costa da Sol the road runs along the beach front with the resulting heavy development.

One of the great attractions of the Algarve is the couple of hundred kilometres of unspoilt countryside and beaches. Without a coastal road, there is no attraction for developers to build overlooking the beaches, except in tightly controlled areas thanks to good planning controls. Most of us, flying into Faro at some time or another would have realised, simply by looking out of the aircraft window, how unspoilt the Algarve is.

Major US publications are pointing at the Algarve

Now major travel publications are coming round to my way of thinking. Travel and Leisure reported last week, ‘This Destination Is Called the 'California of Europe' — and It Gets an Average of 300 Days of Sunshine Per Year. They went on to write: “The coast here also rivals the Golden State. The Algarve's beaches have earned 87 Blue Flags — one of Europe’s highest concentrations”.
The Los Angeles Magazine recently wrote, ‘The New California Dream Is in Portugal’. Even prestigious titles such as The New York Post have published articles singing the praises of Portugal. There seems a common theme, climate, beaches, food, safety, cost of living. No wonder we are seeing a major influx of new residents from North America.

What held us back was infrastructure. Roads, telecoms and a lack of high end accommodation, but that’s all been solved. Entities such as the University of the Algarve are promoting the high speed and availability of internet connections. Portugal is leading the way and is one of the countries in Europe to have almost total fibre optic network coverage.

Climate wise the Algarve offers the cleanest cities in Europe in terms of air quality. During 2020 and 2021 were Umeå in Sweden, and Faro and Funchal according to the updated European city air quality data viewer published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) recently. These days we are becoming very air pollution aware.

The Algarve is about as far South as you can get in Europe. So many of the factors that initially attracted Americans to California are now available here, and at a much lower cost. Property is in the region of 50 percent cheaper than the United States. The weather is relatively similar, but Portugal experiences more hours of sunshine per year than California, and also winter is less harsh. Private healthcare is substantially less expensive and of a very high standard.

Add everything together, climate, award winning beaches, extensive motorways, low crime level, relatively low cost of living and a high availability of high speed internet. It’s easy to see why Portugal and especially the Algarve is suddenly popping up on the radar of North American media.

The Global Citizens site says, ‘When deciding where to relocate, one of the most important factors to consider is the cost of living in the country you want to move to. Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe and one of the few countries in the world where the quality of life consistently scores highly among the expat community.’

America is losing its millionaires

A report by Henley & Partners published a few weeks ago said this. The net inflow of high-net-worth individuals to the US plummeted 86% in 2022 from peak pre-pandemic levels, falling to just 1,500 people, according to a new wealth report by this London-based consultancy. That's compared to a net inflow that fluctuated between 6,400 and 10,800 wealthy people a year from 2013 to 2019. A key impetus for this change has been disillusioned American millionaires looking overseas for opportunities.

The Portugal News promotes Portugal to North America

In March The Portugal News launched the first of its specialist magazines ‘Perfect Portugal’. The first was distributed with the Chicago Tribune, other major US cities are planned within a few weeks. The reasoning is simple, Americans are realising what Portugal, and especially the Algarve has to offer. North America is a major market that can’t be ignored.

What are your views on tourism?

As I look through readers responses to our on-line articles, it’s clear that some people think we don’t need more tourists, wherever they come from. We all know tourism is not 100 percent good and beneficial, but it brings wealth, business, and employment to the Algarve especially. We are committed to tourism, and growth is essential. The tourism industry employs thousands of people, there is a demand for more as tourism grows. The Portuguese people are a major asset. We commissioned two Gallup polls some years ago, number one reason for choosing Portugal was the Portuguese people. They are naturally warm and welcoming.

If tourism was dramatically reduced there would be thousands of unemployed people and empty property. Tourism is the future for the Algarve and if you take an aerial view of the region, you will realise there is plenty of space for well planned growth. Compare with Southern Spain and you will realise how well good planning permission is working.

It is said that there are more tourist beds in one Costa da Sol large town than there is in all the Algarve.


Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy. 

Paul Luckman