In the latest boost to economic connections between the UAE and Portugal, Emirates will launch direct daily flights from Dubai to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, becoming the first carrier based in the Middle East to operate services into Portugal. The route will start from July 9, making Lisbon Emirates’ 31st European destination.
“With the start of the direct flight, we are expecting a massive increase in visitor numbers to Portugal from this region,” said Frederico Costa, President, Tourism of Portugal.
The UAE provided 1,142 tourists to Portugal in 2009, and 2,045 in 2010. With the start of the Emirates flight to Lisbon, the number of tourists from the region is expected to go up significantly to more than 100,000.
Tourism contributes 9.2% of Portugal’s GDP and 8.2% of total employment. The country attracted 7.4 million tourists in 2011, up from 6.8 million in 2010. While the five main markets providing visitors to Portugal are Spain, the UK, Germany, France and Brazil, the Middle East and South Asia are increasingly generating tourist traffic to the country.
Besides tourism, Portugal holds importance for the UAE in terms of trade relations. Trade between the two countries has been growing during the past few years. While UAE’s total non-oil trade with Portugal was AED 262.05 million in 2006, it increased to AED 709.63 million in 2011, according to Dubai Chamber.
“Portugal’s relations with the UAE and other countries in the region are mainly based on trade ties. The volume of bilateral trade between both countries has continued to witness a recognisable growth in recent years,” said Her Excellecy Cecilia Meireles, Portugal’s Minister of Tourism.