It’s time to visit Portugal

The Algarve

By the end of this year, Portugal’s travel and tourism sector will contribute more than €35.8 billion ($35.17 billion) to the country’s GDP, driving the national economic recovery. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) believes the travel and tourism sector in Portugal could even surpass pre-pandemic levels next year, when it is projected to rise nearly 4.8 per cent above 2019 levels.

Currently, Portugal has direct routes from the UAE (Emirates), Israel (El AI and TAP), and Turkey (TAP and Turkish Airlines) and the numbers show a growing flow of flights from these countries.

“Portugal was again voted in 2022 as Europe’s leading destination. Lisbon and Porto were voted best city break destinations”
– Maria Amaral


Maria Ines Amaral, Founder & CEO of By Aurora group, gives us some insight into the Portuguese product.


What makes Portugal special and perfect for the Middle East traveller?

I am Portuguese so I guess I am a bit biased but Portugal is the perfect destination for Middle East travellers as it offers security, value for money, luxury accommodation and shopping and endless family entertainment. Portugal was again voted in 2022 as Europe’s leading destination. Lisbon and Porto were voted best city break destinations. I believe these awards speak for themselves. Moreso, Portugal is also in the top ten safest countries in Europe. In terms of product Portugal offers beautiful hotel palaces and countryside manors and kilometre long sandy beaches.


Could you tell us what are the various activations you have had in the past promoting Portugal to the Middle East?

Our company is only two years old, we started just at the beginning of the pandemic, so activations only really started last year when the lockdown was lifted. We hosted a roadshow in Doha and Riyadh, two events at the Portuguese Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai for the travel sector of the UAE. I was invited as a guest speaker at the T-fest, we hosted several webinars for Emirates Holidays, Seera Group, and we hosted a virtual roadshow in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We have a lot of activations planned for next year, amongst them are collaborations with private luxury events in Abu Dhabi as well as a shoot for a travel series on Portugal for the Saudi market.


Has Portugal flourished as a destination from the Middle East in 2022? 

Unfortunately, we don’t have any statistics but I do know from our partners in the Middle East that the interest in Portugal as a holiday destination has increased in the past years. Local airlines have increased the flight frequency to Portugal and tour operators in the Middle East are now actively contracting hotels and promoting holiday packages. 


What are the main challenges you face in promoting Portugal in the region? 

The Middle Eastern markets and more specifically Dubai are extremely competitive markets. Everything and anything happens here, so there is a lot of ‘noise’ when it comes to promoting a destination. Tourism boards from all around the world have been including the Middle East in their marketing budgets with the objective of providing support to the travel sector in the region as well as in the source markets, to create awareness to the destinations and consequently increase the number of overnight stays.

Although the Portuguese Tourism Board is not yet present in the Middle East, a few actions have been implemented in the past and we are looking forward to work together in the future.


Why should Portugal look at promoting in the Middle East region?

With the forecast of a recession hitting Europe and the US during this winter, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised the UAE’s economic growth forecast upward for 2022 and 2023. According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook report, the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow 5.1 per cent this year as compared to its previous forecast of 4.2 per cent. It would be the highest growth in the past seven years.

The US and Europe are the biggest source markets for Portugal, hence I believe it’s important that the travel sector in Portugal starts looking into other markets such as the United Arab Emirates. 

* By Aurora group is a marketing and investments/relocations agency based in Dubai and operating in all of the GCC. It deals in everything from hotel representations to advice for real estate investments in Portugal through the golden visa programme