June 24, 2019

Portugal Awarded “World’s Leading Tourist Destination 2018”

On the picture Évora, capital of Alentejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

By Catherine van der Loos.

During a gala black tie event held in the Pátio da Galéon western side of the Comércio Square in Lisbon a little more than a month ago, Portugal was honored with the “World’s Leading Tourist Destination 2018” award by the World Travel Awards. The event, one of the world’s most prestigious tourism and travel events in the industry, marked the end of the organization’s Silver Jubilee Grand Tour.

During the December 1, 2018 awards ceremony, Turismo de Portugal   received two “World Travel Awards.” The first was the “World’s Leading Tourist Board 2018”and the second was for the “World’s Leading Tourism Authority Website 2018.” A complete list of both the “World”and “European” awards presented to Portugal, the Portuguese Ministry of Tourism, Tap Airways and various Portuguese resorts and hotels recognized during the awards ceremony can be found here.

Portugal, a country with approximately 10.5 million inhabitants, welcomed some 12.7 million visitors in 2017. The figures set a new record which significantly contributed to the nation’s strongest economic growth since 2000. Revenues from Portugal’s tourism and travel related industries account for nearly 10% of the country’s GDP, which expanded by 2.7% in 2018 to a 17 year high.

Last year, Portugal was also recognized as the “The friendliest country in the world for expats” in an Inter-Nations survey which was widely reported in the media last spring. With the holiday season behind us, and eight to ten weeks of inclement weather ahead, now is an opportune time to plan a trip to Portugal. The country enjoys an average of 300 days and 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and the flight time to the sun is just under three hours!

This coming Thursday, the “Vakantiebeurs” opens. It is the largest consumer vacation expo devoted to travel and tourism in the Netherlands and one of the largest in Europe. Last year more than 100,000 visitors attended the four day event which will be held at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, from January 10-13.Visit the show and learn more about the world’s leading tourist destination and other travel opportunities during the coming year.

Some 1,071 international exhibitors, including 63 tour operators, travel agencies, resort properties and campgrounds specializing in Portuguese holidays, will be participating. Official tourist offices from both the “Center of Portugal” and the “Alentejo” regions will also be exhibiting. The show offers a unique opportunity for first time visitors to Portugal to speak directly with knowledgeable experts about a “citybreak” or “crocusvakantie” (winter holiday) trip in the regions.


Alentejo, a geographically diverse and sparsely populated area about the size of Belgium, comprises nearly one third of the country’s land area on the Iberian peninsula and has just 750,000 inhabitants. It begins just 180 km south of Lisbon and can best be explored by rental car over a period of days. Some of Europe’s finest beaches, still largely unknown to outsiders, are to be found along Alentejo’s wild Vincentina Coast.

Évora, settled during the Roman times, is the capital of Alentejo and is known as the “Museum city.” The historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The district extends  from the west, to the plains of Evora and beyond to the picturesque village of Monsaraz overlooking Alqueva Lake. It was created by an arch dam, completed in 2002, on the River Guadiana. The Alqueva Dam provides both recreational opportunities for water sports and much needed water for irrigated crops, including vast plantings of new vineyards.Portugal’s border with Spain also runs through parts of one of Europe’s largest artificial lakes, which is also known to the Portuguese as “El Grande Lago.”

In recognition, the World’s Leading Tourist Destination 2018 having been awarded to Portugal, we will be publishing a series of monthly articles, beginning with Alentejo, to showcase the  varied offerings for cultural, historic, active, religious, gastronomical, adventure and family tourism in the world’s friendliest country for expats – Portugal!


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