LISBON, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's largest travel fair Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa (BTL) kicked off Wednesday and will last until Sunday with slogans such as "Travel in your world. Embrace Portugal".
This year, the trade fair is appealing to Portuguese to travel abroad dedicating half of its space to promoting 36 foreign destinations although the general mood was one of optimism.
According to President of Portugal's Hotel Association (AHP) Cristina Siza Vieira, Portugal plans to open 27 new hotels in 2014. This comes at a time when there is a 20-percent gap between supply and demand as hotel prices go down.
At the AHP pavilion, Siza Vieira told Xinhua that, "Portugal remained competitive within the European market offering good value for money, although demand from Spanish holidaymakers has dropped by 10 percent."
The AHP president said, "A heavy fiscal load, bureaucratic and often expensive municipal legislation means that Portugal's hotel industry has become unprofitable."
"Demand from Brazil and Angola has kept the luxury market afloat while many three star hotels are operating at a loss," she said.
AHP, which represents 70 percent of Portugal's hotel market, estimates that in 2012 some 13 million visitors who came to Portugal were able to choose from 1,019 hotels or 91,670 rooms leaving around 20 percent more hotels than currently required.
This year BLT is focusing on the domestic market with large stands representing northern and central Portugal as well as the up and coming Alentejo region.
According to Goncalo Rebelo de Almeida, CEO of Vila Gale Hotels, Portugal's second largest hotel chain, "As Portuguese and international customers spend less time and money in Portugal there is a need to grow more abroad to sustain portuguese market."
Rebelo de Almeida said that Vila Gale has opened six hotels in Brazil which has become a very important market for the Portuguese hotel sector.
The Vila Gale CEO said that after a boom in construction and real estate companies building hotels it was now time for industry specialists to innovate the Portuguese market."
Rebelo de Almeida said, "The number of hotels and tourists has grown in Portugal but clients are now spending less money and less time in Portugal averaging four to five nights instead of a week or 10 days."
"The key to growth will be marketing Portugal and reaching untapped markets such as Germany, Russia and Brazil," Rebelo de Almeida said.
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