Portugal is one of the fastest growing destinations in terms of departures from France, as French tourists visit the country in ever greater numbers.

Between 2013 and 2017, departures from France to Portugal grew at an annual CAGR of 6.3% from 1.2 million to 1.5 million. GlobalData expects Portugal to remain one of the fastest growing destinations for French tourists globally and the second fastest in Europe after Malta. In particular, growth is expected to continue at a CAGR of 6.1% between 2017 and 2022 reaching two million outbound trips.

Why are French tourists flocking to Portugal?

Portugal has been experiencing a tourist boom in recent years as more and more tourists are recognising the unique offerings of the smaller nation of the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is home to a unique coastline, top quality food and is known for having a relaxed lifestyle like its neighbour Spain, Italy and Greece.

A great plus of Portugal is the lower cost when it comes to holidaymaking, which makes it particularly lucrative among French tourists seeking affordability without having to compromise the quality of their vacation. Affordability was a key concern of the French as a result of several years of sluggish economic growth and depressed consumer confidence.

Lisbon, the capital of the country, has become the key attraction and is particularly popular among younger cohorts. Many are even moving there seeking a career. Besides Lisbon, the coast of the country offers breathtaking landscapes, while the relatively unexplored culture surprises most first-time visitors, with positive word of mouth spreading rapidly, fuelling further growth.

Another key factor behind the rapid spike in arrivals from France is the perceived security of the country. In particular, France suffered greatly following a deadly attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and coordinated assaults around the capital in November of 2015. These events grew sensitivity on issues related to security and safety in the country during this period.

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By GlobalData

Growing security concerns, coupled with terror attacks in Turkey and Tunisia the same year, resulted in French tourists looking for alternative destinations. Flows were thus redirected from destinations in North Africa to European countries in the Mediterranean. Besides Greece, Italy and Spain, Portugal was one of the destinations to attract growing attention from the French for this reason.

The French do not only travel to Portugal, but also invest in properties in the country

Besides the rapid growth in tourist arrivals, many French tourists are also buying properties in Portugal, giving rise to the trend that has come to be known as ‘French invasion’. Investing in properties is particularly common among retirees, as the country allows them to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle and offers tax benefits to expat pensioners. The cost of living is also substantially lower than other European destinations and the overall quality of life is high.

Portugal set to become the third most popular destination for French tourists after Spain and Italy

With the positive feedback loop, the shining sun and the tax breaks set to continue, the French are expected to continue flocking to Portugal.

As departures are forecast to continue growing, GlobalData expects Portugal to overcome Germany and the UK, becoming the third most visited destination by the French by 2022.