Tourism in Portugal
In Portugal, tourism accounts for roughly a tenth of the country's GNP and about a quarter of foreign investment is thanks to the tourist trade. Portugal's tourism industry continues to flourish at the moment and in some areas it really does account for most of the goings-on: local businesses, restaurants and bars, hotels and resorts all rely on the draw of Portugal's beaches and wonderful climate to bring in the some 12 million visitors that come every year.
More or less half of the tourists flock to the Algarve where they lie on the sandy beaches, soak up the twelve hours' sunshine every day and clog up the nightclubs in the evenings. For local residents and ex-pats who have come here to get away from it all, this kind of tourism can be the last thing they want. It is therefore important for the tourists to remember to be responsible and thoughtful, and for those looking at buying property in Portugal to remember that the prime industry of such areas is tourism. If you are buying a house in the Algarve, bear in mind that the summer months will bring with them hordes of your country folk (who you were perhaps trying to escape), and that if you are not prepared to suffer four months of discotheques and occasional littering on beaches every year you should think about living in one of Portugal's less touristy regions.
Responsible tourism is becoming more evident in areas such as the Algarve, however, as activities such as jeep safaris are seen to be having a negative impact on the natural environment and previously remote habitats for rare species. Think about taking an organised walking tour of such areas rather than piling into a jeep as this is much more eco-friendly and will help the environment cope with large influxes of visitors.
You might also want to consider visiting Portugal outside the normal tourist season (June to September), as you will benefit from quieter beaches, less-crowded restaurants and hotels and almost the same amount of sunshine. This approach also helps the ancient monuments to cope as it minimises the impact of tourism as far as possible by spreading the load over a longer period of time. You could also visit less popular areas and help the financial benefits of tourism reach the more far-flung corners of Portugal, whilst also gaining knowledge about areas that most people don't get to see, like Trás-os-Montes for example.
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