Portugal Aims at 500,000 Chinese Tourists a year by 2026

The head of the Portuguese Tourism Board, Carlos Abade, set the goal of reaching 500,000 Chinese tourists a year by 2026, during a visit to Beijing, where he took part in the Asian country’s largest tourism fair.

Speaking to the Lusa news agency on the sidelines of ITB China, where he took part with a delegation of 20 Portuguese companies, Carlos Abade added that the goal is to reach one million overnight stays by Chinese tourists by 2026.

‘In line with the growth forecasts for the Chinese market worldwide, we think this is possible,’ he said.

Portugal Present at China´s Largest Tourism Fair

Portugal received 57,740 tourists from the People’s Republic of China – excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – in the first quarter of 2024. This corresponds to an increase of 135% year-on-year, but represents only 70% of 2019 levels, the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘It may be possible to reach the end of the year with similar figures to 2019, which would be 385,000 guests, 600,000 overnight stays and EUR 224 million in revenue,’ said Carlos Abade.

China, the world’s largest source of tourists, kept its borders closed for almost three years under the ‘zero cases’ policy of Covid-19, which was dismantled at the end of 2022 after protests in several cities across the country.

Portugal looking to boost tourism from China

Under that policy, those arriving in the country had to fulfil a quarantine period of up to three weeks in designated facilities. The number of international flights was reduced by up to 2% compared to the period before the pandemic.

The scarcity of commercial flights abroad, the many Chinese with expired passports or without Schengen visas, mean that the impact of China’s reopening has yet to materialise: only 87 million Chinese travelled abroad in 2023, compared to 155 million in 2019, according to data from the China Tourism Academy.

However, the head of the Portuguese Tourism Board emphasised the ‘magnificent’ results for Porto. Although the number of Chinese tourists nationally remains below the 2019 level, in the case of the country’s second largest city there was an increase of 107% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024.

Chinese Tourism in Portugal yet to recover, after record drop in 2020

The official also highlighted the importance of operating on Chinese social networks, following Turismo de Portugal’s launch of a mini-programme on WeChat, aimed at promoting Portuguese gastronomy, tourist attractions or festivities.

Beijing maintains an online censorship mechanism known as the ‘Great Firewall of China’ which blocks portals such as Facebook, Youtube or Instagram.

‘We are very active in this area, because we realise that this is where the dynamics are,’ he stressed.


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