Portugal ’08 tourism income hits record high

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LISBON – Portugal’s tourism income hit a record high of 7.5 billion euros ($9.45 billion) in 2008, in spite of the economic crisis that started in the second half of the year, the economy ministry said on Thursday.

The revenues, which rose 1.7 percent from 2007, included both foreign and domestic tourists. It showed that while Britons cut their trips to Portugal last year due to economic hardship, visits by Brazilians, French and Dutch rose.

Expenditure by Spanish visitors to Portugal also rose, with revenues rising by 9.2 million euros to 1.092 billion euros last year as more tourists came across the border.

Tourism is a key economic sector for Portugal and is slightly cheaper than Spain, something that could make it more attractive as northern Europeans seek budget trips during the economic crisis.