Portugal's 2027 vision to become one of the most sustainable tourist destinations in the world

The 2027 Sustainable Tourism Strategy will focus on Economic, Social and Environmental framework to position Portugal as one of the most competitive and sustainable tourist destinations in the world.

The Official Portuguese Tourism Board, Turismo de Portugal, will manage the 2027 strategy approved by the Portuguese Government in 2017 under the patronage of Ana Mendes Godinho (Secretariat of State for Tourism Portugal) to embed sustainability into the national tourism policy. Resulting from a national debate, the ambitious initiative has outlined several crucial goals and targets to be reached across three dimensions of sustainability; Economic, Social and Environmental.

Within this framework, Turismo de Portugal has developed a set of monitoring indicators, otherwise known as SITS (Sustainable Tourism Indicators System) based on recommendations from international organisations (UNWTO, Eurostat). The objective of SITS will be to evaluate the performance and progress of the 2027 strategy.

With ethical tourism policies and eco-friendly initiatives high on the global agenda, Portugal has put in place a cohesive strategy to position the nation as a leading destination within the sustainability criteria and a thought leader in the future for European and cross-continental tourism.

Environmental Sustainability

The 2027 strategy looks to maximise the efficient management of water, energy and waste. The objective is to improve environmental efficiency from the public and private sector related with Tourism, increased efficiency and focused development in the effective management of resources. The key milestones pertaining to the environment include:

  • Energy – to boost the number of tourism companies developing energy efficiency measures by 90% in 2027.
  • Water – to boost the number of tourism companies developing water efficiency measures by 90% in 2027
  • Waste – To boost the number of tourism companies developing waste management measures by 90% in 2027.

Social Sustainability

The strategy will also work with three goals in mind: to solidify the standard of qualification for the Portuguese workforce, reduce seasonality amongst tourists and improve residents’ satisfaction with the process of tourism development. The following social goals have been outlined:

  • Skillset – the 2027 strategy will aim to increase the number of ‘secondary’ level skilled workers from 30% (2015) to 60%, and superior skilled workers from 12% (2015) to 28%.
  • Year-round Tourism – to reduce seasonality from 37.5% to 33.5% by 2027 and have tourism figures positively even out across all seasons.
  • Local attitudes towards tourism – to increase the number of locals recognising the positive impacts of tourism by 90% in 2027.

Economic Sustainability

The 2027 Tourism Strategy will also focus on boosting economic sustainability by increasing the number of overnight stays and revenues from Tourism as a result of the touristic activity.

The strategy outlines a clear plan to have overnight stays in the country rise from 48.9 million (2015) to 80 million by 2027. In return, revenue generated as a result of tourism will look to rise at a rate beyond double from 11.5 billion (2015) to 26 billion in 2027. There will also be an aim to increase the average stay and average spend of guests in certain regions as this can be a decisive factor in economic progress. The monthly evolution of overnight stays by region also allows for the seasonality of tourism to be managed. Further to this there is an active emphasis on increasing the average stay and spend of guests in non-traditional regions to promote additional and balanced  demand dispersal to accelerate significant economic progress.

2027 Action Plan

The action plan includes seven key verticals put in place in order to ensure the stability of tourism based on the following five strategic axes; Value the territory, boosting the economy, enhancing knowledge, increasing connectivity ang promoting the country. Some of the measures already implemented include:

  • Portuguese Trails – aimed at stimulating cycling & walking routes in Portugal to position the country as an international destination for this activity. This action plan will focus on the qualifications of regional destinations to capture new markets and promote business services in partnership with industry stakeholders. 
  • Portuguese Waves – aimed at promoting the sustainability of surf spots. The main aim of this vertical is to highlight the country’s excellence as a surfing destination whilst also promoting best practices in the way of sustainable tourism. This includes the preservation of nature.
  • Sustainability Criteria for investment & Classification- To promote sustainability throughout the value chain. This includes the adoption of environmental and social sustainability in the licensing and public recognition of projects, include sustainability as a relevant element in the classification system of tourism enterprises and to ensure the integration of sustainability concepts in courses and training of future professionals in the sector.
  • Promoting a more inclusive tourism- to promote ‘all for all – Portuguese tourism’ insuring our country facilities as well as enterprises are prepared for anyone, independent of their needs.
  • Innovation – To build the future of sustainable tourism. This will be actioned by the Tourism Innovation Centre, in partnership with companies like Google and Microsoft, in order to promote technology, new business ideas, transition into a digital economy, open innovation programs, all this in partnership with tourism leaders and other stakeholders from inside and outside the industry.
  • Promote Knowledge – To make progress measurable. This will involve programs to monitor the environmental performance of tourism enterprises and sustainability at destination level. Further to this there will be a network of sustainability observatories and mobile data to identify impact. This will also see the participation in international projects to promote knowledge in tourism sustainability via UNWTO MST, INSTO and other educational vehicles.

Speaking at the evaluation of the first two years of the 2027 Tourism Strategy, Luis Araújo, Chairman of Turismo de Portugal said: “In Portugal, we intend to affirm Tourism as a hub for economic, social and environmental development throughout the territory, positioning Portugal as one of the most competitive and sustainable tourist destinations in the world.

“To achieve what we have set out, it is essential to define implementation measures with adequate funding, investment in technology, infrastructure and human resources. It was in this sense that specific funding lines were created to promote the development of tourism in the interior and instruments that allow the mobilization of tourism companies and public entities in order to guarantee a more sustainable, accessible and inclusive tourism offer.

“Finally, a decisive commitment to knowledge and, in particular, to the monitoring of sustainability, as an instrument to support the decision-making of sector agents. The huge and multiple challenges we face as a sector require a concerted response from all stakeholders in the industry”.

The Sustainable Tourism Indicators System (SITS) can be found here: https://travelbi.turismodeportugal.pt/en-US/pages/sustentabilidade.aspx