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Like it's Iberian neighbor Spain, Portugal turned its head start of warm weather into a head start on post-pandemic tourism recovery.

Passenger traffic at Portuguese airports in the first four months of the year exceeded pre-pandemic levels, boosted by booming tourism, official data showed on Wednesday.

The National Statistics Institute, or INE, said that 5.9 million passengers transited through Portuguese airports in April, 11% more than in the same month of 2019 and 19% more than in April 2022.

In the first four months of the year, the number of passengers reached a record 18.7 million, 14% more than in the same period in 2019 and 41% more than in the first four months of last year.

Airport passenger traffic in Europe as a whole has still to recover to levels seen before the pandemic grounded air travel in early 2020, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe said recently.

Airports in countries like Spain and Portugal that rely heavily on tourism have outperformed ones in Germany, France and Britain where there was a higher share of business travel.

Lisbon’s airport, one of 10 main terminals in the country operated by France’s Vinci, handled 53% of the passengers, or around 10 million people.

Monthly passenger numbers in 2023 “have always been higher than pre-pandemic levels”, INE said.

Passengers mainly came from France, the United Kingdom and Spain, as was the case before the pandemic.

Tourism, a key driver of Portugal’s economy, accounted for almost 15% of gross domestic product before the pandemic and has boomed again since the beginning of this year.

In a separate document, INE said the number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal in the first four months of the year surpassed 4.5 million, 44% more than a year ago.

Tourists also spent more money. The average price per room per night in April was 105.4 euros, about 30% more than in the same month of 2019 and 15% more than a year ago.

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves and João Manuel Vicente Maurício, editing by Inti Landauro, Kirsten Donovan)

This article was written by Joao Manuel Vicente Mauricio and Sergio Goncalves from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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Tags: coronavirus recovery, portugal

Photo credit: A street musician in Porto, Portugal. John Tecuceanu / Unsplash

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