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The number of holidaying residents opting to stay with friends and family instead of booking into a hotel grew by almost ten percent during the second quarter of this year, in comparison to the same period of 2011, much to the detriment of the national hotel industry.

Fresh figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE) show that during the first six months of 2012, in comparison to the same period of 2011, the number of Portuguese residents opting for free holiday accommodation over hotels grew by eight percent, from 66.4 in 2011 to 74.4 this year.

This was particularly true for the period from April to June this year, with 73 percent of Portuguese holidaying in Portugal opting to stay somewhere for free, a “significant growth” in comparison to the 64.6 percent registered during the same period of last year.

In total, of the 11.8 million nights spent in beds by holidaying nationals between April and June 2012, more than 8.6 million were spent in free beds in private accommodation.
According to the INE during that period residents in Portugal enjoyed 3.7 million holidays, 6.7 percent more than during the second quarter of 2011, and over the first six months of 2012 they took 7.1 million holidays, 13.4 percent more than during the first half of 2011.

“There was an essential contribution of the growth in trips to visit family or friends (up 17.8 percent) during the second quarter of the year, as ‘leisure, recreation or holidays’ trips were up by 5.8 percent”, the INE said.
Between April and June this year, 50.2 percent of Portuguese tourists were found to be female, 32.7 percent were aged 45-64 and 68.9 percent of those travelling for ‘professional or business’ reasons were male.
June registered the greatest number of tourists, when nine percent of the population resident in Portugal made at least one trip away from its usual surroundings and spent one or more nights away.
Meanwhile, Portugal’s Tourism Board has predicted that next year’s annual tourism-generated revenue should exceed eight billion euros.

António Padeira, director of Turismo de Portugal’s (TdP) promotional department said: “We expect growth despite the difficult times we are living in”, stressing the importance of the tourism sector to the exports market.

“Two thirds of touristic movement in Portugal comes from external markets”, he said, explaining that the national tourism strategy needs to include the catchment of new audiences, new tourist products and new market sectors.

“The State Secretary for Tourism [Cecilia Meireles] will be travelling this month to India for meetings to promote Portugal, seeing as around 20 million Indians travel abroad and we need to make the most of that”, Turismo de Portugal’s second-in-command disclosed, adding: “So far this year we’ve been three times to China as well, but at the same time we are working on traditional markets because we can’t neglect anything if we want to turn things around.”

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