Porto feels cut of tourism’s double-edged sword

in World · 30-08-2018 10:48:00 · 0 Comments

It seems there can be too much of a good thing as Porto found out last week when, after years of flourishing tourism and an increasingly magnetic profile, a German magazine considered it may be possible the city is being “destroyed” by the mass tourism created by its own appeal.

After repeatedly being voted one of Europe’s top unsung city-breaks and undiscovered destinations, it seems Porto could be falling victim to its own soaring popularity.
In recent years, Portugal as a whole has seen tourist demand rocket, scooping a string of accolades in the process.
In 2017, Portugal was named World’s Leading Destination by the World Travel Awards, which it followed by being elected Best European Destination, also in the World Travel Awards.
Last week, Virtuoso, the global luxury travel network, recognised Portugal as the ‘Hottest Destination’ of 2018.
The award was handed out during the 30th Annual Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas. Portugal was singled out in front of an audience of 1,700 members of the luxury travel industry, representing travel agents, hotels, airlines as well as cruise lines coming from all over the globe.
When it comes to Porto specifically, the budding number of visitors is blatantly evident in the amount of passengers flowing through its airport, as well as the amount of tourist tax revenue pouring in.
Last year, for the first time ever, Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport surpassed 10 million passengers in a single year after, national airport management company ANA said, “consistent and progressive growth”.
The amount of revenue generated by tourist tax since its implementation nearly 18 months ago is further proof of Porto’s growing visitor numbers, having been deemed by city and tourism officials as “well above expectations”.
According to Porto commerce officials, the revenue obtained from the tax has exceeded the city’s expectations by 50 percent.
The €2 tax, applicable to all guests on all overnight stays at hotels for up to seven consecutive days, which came into force last March, currently generates an average of 750,000 euros per month for the northern city’s coffers.
Up until June this year it had garnered around €2.2 million.
Porto is also looking to increase revenue obtained from local lodgings (Alojamento Local, or short term private holiday lets), saying it hopes to have 90 percent of all licence holders pay the tourist tax by the end of the year.
However, the detrimental effects that swelling tourism can have on a destination has not gone unnoticed by German magazine Der Spiegel, which in a recent publication listed Porto as being among a number of destinations falling foul of their own fame.
In a piece titled ‘Paradise Lost – How Tourists Are Destroying the Places They Love’, published last week on 21 August, the magazine claims “airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet have contributed to a form of mass tourism that has made local residents feel like foreigners”, in cities like Barcelona, Rome and Porto, and says the “infrastructure is buckling under the pressure”.
The report gave the example of Porto’s award-winning Lello bookshop, which it said “no longer resembles a real place” due to the long queues of tourists starting to fill it day in, day out, a five-euro admission fee and a bouncer at the door.
Der Spiegel made the point that locals no longer visit many places in the city because of the “invasion of tourism”.
Sticking to the example of Livraria Lello, the piece continues: it “ultimately feels more like a museum or a theatre backdrop than a real place”, stressing “more than anything, in fact, it has become a symbol for the predatory nature of modern-day tourism -a style of travel that is devouring all the beautiful places which drives it” and creates a divide between “the tourist city and the city for locals”.


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