Length of tourist stays falls — but are the figures distorted?

 In Hospitality, Hotel, Local Accommodation, News, Tourism

Portugal achieved a new record in the number of tourists and tourism-related revenues in 2023, but the number of overnight stays fell.

According to the business daily Negócios, a reduction in the price of low-cost plane tickets and decreased family purchasing power could be among the reasons why.
In 2023, the sector coined in €6Bn on the back of an increase in guest numbers, as well as an increase in the price of overnight stays.
However, the length of the average overnight stay has fallen 2.2% to 2.57 nights according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), a trend which has continued this year. In other words, there are more tourists, but they are spending less time in Portugal.
One theory, put forward by Lisbon’s Católica University professor João Borges, is that the cost of plane tickets has come down worldwide which has helped the number of destinations people can visit for a weekend or three-day trip.
But at the same time, standard of living instability and falling purchasing power mean that many families or couples opt for a short break rather than an entire week abroad.
Economist Vera Gouveia Barros is not duly over concerned about the trend, but says longer stays bring more benefits, and that an accommodation prefers to have the same or greater number of overnight stays with less guests because there are less costs associated with cleaning and paperwork or for check-in for the same revenues.
But, as Luís Pedro Carmo Costa, partner in tourism consultancy Neoturis says: “If in the past holiday destinations such as the Algarve or Madeira followed a traditional model of tourism operation (Plane, transfer, and seven nights in a hotel half board) which ensured longer stays (and consequently more money spent in the economy), low cost airlines have now completely changed the panorama with an increase in the number of tourists on the one hand, but shorter stays on the other.
However, the reduction in nights can also mean visitors are staying in more than one location over the course of a week, spending two nights in one hotel, and two nights in another hotel in different towns since Portugal is now being discovered for its different regions, and that could distort the figures.
For example, a couple or family could start their holiday by staying two nights in Lisbon, and then spend two nights in Porto, and perhaps finish off by a couple of days in the Algarve or Madeira rather than booking a week in the same hotel in just one location.

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