The number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal hit a record of more than 1.8 million in May, with visitors from the United States becoming the second-largest group, data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed on Friday.

Measuring only foreigners staying in Portuguese hotels, the number topped by far the 1.6 million people a year ago, and was above the 1.7 million reported in the same month of 2019, which was a record year for tourism, before the COVID-19 pandemic crippled global travel in 2020.

In the first five months of 2023, the number of foreign tourists visiting the Portugal surpassed 6.4 million, up from 5.7 million in the same period of 2019.

Tourism, a key driver of Portugal’s economy, accounted for almost 15% of gross domestic product before the pandemic.

Visitors from Britain represented the largest share of total arrivals in May, closely followed by the United States, which has significantly grown as a source of tourism to Portugal.France.

(Reporting by Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)

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Tags: coronavirus recovery, portugal