Growth in the Portuguese tourism sector was among the fastest in Europe last year, with travel now accounting for €1 in every €5 spent in the country.
The sector also accounts for one in five of all jobs in the destination, demonstrating the importance of the hospitality market to the country.
The figures come from the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review of the economic impact and social importance of the sector.
The research, conducted for almost 30 years by WTTC, shows that in 2018 the Portuguese tourism sector grew by 8.1 per cent to contribute €38 billion to the Portuguese economy.
This represents 19.1 per cent of the total economy activity in the country.
Tourism employed 1.05 million people, or 21.8 per cent of all jobs, with the marker dominated by international leisure travellers.
Portugal was also last year recognised as the World’s Leading Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards.
Looking forward to 2019, WTTC predicts the Portuguese tourism sector will grow by 5.3 per cent this year, more than double the European average of 2.5 per cent.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president, said: “Last year was another year of strong growth for the global tourism sector reinforcing its role as a driver of economic growth and job creation.
“For the eighth consecutive year, our sector outpaced growth in the wider global economy and we recorded the second-highest growth of any major sector in the world.
“In Portugal, tourism grew at the fastest rate of any country in the European Union in 2018 and that growth is forecast to continue into 2019.
“Portugal has the potential to increase the size of its travel economy even further by growing the size of its business tourism sector; at present, business travellers account for only 15 per cent of all spending in Portugal against a European average of 21 per cent.”