Speaking at the inauguration of the yearly BTL tourism trade show in Lisbon, the Prime Minister stressed that Central Portugal “was the region worst affected by the natural tragedies that hit the country last summer.”
Describing the Central Region as “an excellent tourism destination”, António Costa said investing in that region is “helping to give a new life and revitalise a territory that was massacred by the calamities” of last year, in which more than 100 people died in wildfires.
Given recent information that Portugal has had “the best economic growth since the beginning of the century”, coupled with “one of the lowest unemployment rates of the last decade”, the Prime Minister argued the need to “continue cherishing tourism” so that the country can continue to grow, increase its exports, and create “more and better jobs”.
In his speech, the Prime Minister also thanked all professionals in the country’s tourism sector for their “excellent contribution towards development”.
The BTL is the largest business platform for the tourism sector in Portugal, and is held in Lisbon’s riverside Park of Nations area.
Central Portugal was this year’s BTL ‘National Guest Destination’, and was given a stand in a privileged location at the event, which runs until Sunday.
Spain is currently the Central Region’s main tourist source market; although recent figures show American, Brazilian and Asian visitors are all rising markedly.
According to provisional figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE), based on data from 2017, 1.40 million foreigners visited that region last year, accounting for 2.76 million nights spent therein, the majority by Spanish nationals.
The year 2017 was a record-setting year for Portugal in terms of tourism, with tourist-generated revenue having exceeded €15 billion, or a spending of around €41 million per day.
The sector also welcomed a record-breaking number of tourists, at close to 22 million visitors.
Meanwhile, while the Central Region and other parts of Portugal are endeavouring to get back on their feet following last year’s tragic wildfires, some local authorities have criticised a new law that stipulates all landowners must clean their land before 15 March or face fines, with councils having to step in if they fail to do so.
News site Observador reports the Mayor of Loures (greater Lisbon) has said it is “impossible” to comply with the new law and accused the government of shunting the responsibility onto councils.
Bernardino Soares said that in order to comply with the new land-cleaning law, his municipality would need around four million euros, a budget that “we do not have”, nor would it be possible within the timeframe stipulated.
However, he noted that Loures “has done everything in its power to contribute to the prevention of fires in the county”.
According to the new law, property owners have to carry out land-cleaning around buildings in rural areas.
Failing to do so, local councils have until the end of May to step in.