Tourism in Portugal and the COVID-19 virus

“It’s as if the country has gone into hibernation” or “The economy has gone into a quarantined state and we don’t know when better times will come.” are the most common phrases spoken by Portuguese economics experts during this dark period that we are all experiencing.

In a country where tourism is one of the main bases of the economy and with the approaching Easter holiday period where a large influx of foreign and Portuguese tourists would be expected to the main tourist spots in Portugal, what will happen to tourism in Portugal? How long will it take before we start to return to normal? These are some of the questions that we all try to get answered but at the moment it seems that we want all the answers to all our doubts and fears, but all we can do is: wait.

In a country dominated by Commerce and Tourism that made millions move, we were used to seeing shopping centers always with a large flow of people, restaurants full on weekends and without taking account of reservations, the highways dominated by the movement of workers who traveled from work to home and from families who were preparing to head to the south of the country for an Easter mini-vacation or simply to spend the weekends – what we are seeing now is a break of more than 50 % of hotel reservations for a period of at least 3 months, an increase of 8.3% in ordering meals already ready to eat at home, instead of being enjoyed in the restaurant and a large concentration of purchases in supermarkets and pharmacies (Source – ).

But even though living in dark times in tourism and restoration, and despite the statistics, it is difficult to attribute a number to the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic on tourism due to the scale of activities linked to the sector, but it is estimated that “Now, in April and May (…) more than 90% of the companies will have zero sales ”, concluded the president of the Confederation of Tourism of Portugal (Source – ). It won’t be easy to imagine the outcome of these conclusions…

But more than the numbers that invade our homes through the media, what we know for certain is that these times have required an enormous adaptation of workers and entrepreneurs in the restaurant and tourism sector: even before the State of Emergency was decreed in Portugal on March 19, many restaurant owners decided to close the doors of their establishments without even knowing if the Government was going to help them, “surrendering to their own fate”. The same happened with local accommodation and hotel establishments. Another of the measures we are witnessing (via social media), although closed at home, many Portuguese people seem to be already aware of the importance of promoting and buying local products and Portuguese brands.

So if we want to characterize this new phase for these sectors, we can add it as – adaptation, “a leap in the dark”, resilience, patience and FAITH.

We are sure, when we get out of this situation, we will make Portugal an EVEN MORE desirable country to visit.


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