Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Tourism Triumph, Heaps of Hotels, the Real Estate Bubble, Selling Feira Popular, Championing China, the Cost of Corruption, Parental Rights, and much more!
Tourism Triumph at 2019 Awards
We all knew it, but now we have been vindicated. Lisbon was host to the World Travel Awards for the first time, and Portugal received a host of accolades. Portugal was voted asthe “World’s Leading Destination,” Madeira as the “World’s Leading Island Destination,” and Turismo de Portugal the “World’s Leading Tourist Board.” If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it well.
Heaps of Hotels for 2019
And what comes out of that tourism? Well, next year we will see 65 new hotels across the country, 23 of them in Lisbon. This is similar in growth to recent years, according to Cristina Siza Vieira, chief executive of the Association of Hospitality of Portugal. The spread reflects tourist demand — most of the new hotels are in Lisbon, the north, and the Algarve.
Repeat After Me: There Is No Bubble
Overall, real estate is still on the up and up, according to Moody’s. And while there are risks in the real estate sector, there is no bubble, according to a report released today. Antonio Tena, the report’s co-author and a vice president at Moody’s, says that the “real estate market in [Lisbon and Porto] is accelerating at an unusual pace, especially considering that household income levels do not seem to have matched the real estate price growth in these areas.” The report warns that if valuation levels and income don’t level out, we could run into problems. However, Moody’s found that the construction sector wasn’t overactive, but rather responding to demand, which suggests there isn’t a bubble. Yet.
Feira Popular Finally Flogged
Câmara de Lisboa has finally sold the grounds of Feira Popular, for over €270 million — €88 million more than expected. Fidelidade, a Chinese-owned insurance firm, purchased all three sections of Feira Popular and an adjacent plot on Avenida Álvaro Pais. Fernando Medina, mayor of Lisbon, announced on Twitter that the additional €88 million will be used to strengthen the Programa da Renda Acessível (Affordable Income Program). Some have pointed out that Fidelidade bought what will be a luxury real estate development with the money it gained from selling other properties throughout the country — sales that caused a wave of evictions.
Mini Montijo No Good for Neves
Jumping across the Tejo, the proposed development of a second airport in Montijo has taken yet another hit. Antonoaldo Neves, the CEO of TAP, of all people, says it’s too small. TAP, the national Portuguese carrier, has been rallying for a fit-for-purpose airport since Portela, Lisbon’s main airport, is no longer able to keep up with demand. However, Neves says that Montijo can’t accommodate the infrastructure that is needed. Miguel Frasquilho, chairman of TAP, said at a conference last month that Portela was already congested and would be at full capacity within two to three years.
Sino-Portuguese Relations Better Than Ever
Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, says that the relationship between Portugal and China is better than ever. He continued on to say that China and Portugal would come together in an active fight against climate change and praised the robust and long-lasting relationship between the two countries. Marcelo made his remarks at a dinner that marked the end of the two-day state visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Out of the IMFrying Pan and Into the Fire
Minister of Finance, Mário Centeno, announced on Monday that Portugal had cleared its debt with the IMF. This debt was part of the 2011 bailout, and while the IMF only accounted for €28 billion of the €76.5 billion loaned to Portugal, they had a much higher interest rate of 4.3%. By paying off the loan early — it was expected to run until 2022 or 2023 — Portugal has saved €1.2 billion in interest payments. However, as pointed out by PSD opposition leader Rui Rio, the national debt is now at a record high of €251.1 billion.
The Real Cost of Corruption
When it comes to balancing the national books, Portugal loses about 7.9% of GDP every year to corruption. This equates to €18.2 billion every year, which is the 11th highest amount in the EU, according to a recent report by the Greens and the European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. The report notes that the amount lost to corruption is more than is spent on healthcare — €16.2 billion — and 10 times the €1.8 billion spent on unemployment. In fact, the amount lost to corruption could give every Portuguese citizen €1763 a year. The study also references a 2017 survey that found that 92% of respondents thought that corruption was widespread in Portugal and 79% said that it was part of the business culture.
Promising Policy Package for Parents
A new package of measures that aims to better balance the family, personal, and work life of people in Portugal was revealed last week. One of the measures is an increase in paternity leave, with the new proposal upping the number of paid days from 15 to 20. Furthermore, if a new mother is unemployed, the father will still be entitled to 15 days rather than the 0 they had before. Child benefits are also set to increase, among many other changes that aim to make parenthood more appealing. This is in part a response to the low birth rate in Portugal.
The Terror of Cascais Canines
Finally, you may remember that last week there was talk of vicious feral dogs roaming the north of the country, and you weren’t worried. Well, start worrying! This week saw reports of at least “fifty or so dangerous dogs on the loose” in Cascais. Dogs that were “born on the street” were reportedly behind several attacks.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!