Porto and the Douro River are about to become the "new Monaco" of Europe, whose core activity is nautical tourism. If Monaco, situated on the Mediterranean coast, is the second smallest country in the world, being about 20 kilometres from Nice, Porto, situated on the Atlantic coast, is the second largest city in Portugal, being less than an hour away from immersion into the magnificent landscape of the Douro Valley, the oldest demarcated region in the world, recognized in 1756. In common, the regions offer countless outdoor experiences, private as opposed to mass-market programmes, tailor-made tourist projects, high quality infrastructures, award-winning gastronomy and marinas with premium pleasure boats. It is a geographical personality trait based on sustainability and exclusivity, which is also mirrored in luxury real estate. Examples of this are the farms, for those looking for an investment in unique places in tourism and in the wine business in the Douro and Vinho Verde wine region, or the new developments, with apartments with sea views, in the heart of Foz do Douro, most with the LUXIMOS Christie's International Real Estate seal of approval.
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The great difference of the Portuguese territory, which is also its inimitable added value, is its location on the map: being positioned on the ground floor of Europe, it is as far away as it is possible to be from all the conflicts that cyclically occur in the world, giving it an enormous competitive advantage. Not by chance, Portugal has occupied for several years the podium of the safest destinations in the world. It is a historical position difficult to dethrone, as recently recalled by the President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in an international fair dedicated to tourism: "Portugal is a safe haven, and it is wonderful in terms of climate. That's why it's been sought after since World War II and whenever there are conflicts." The uncertainty created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine further reinforces the prominence Portugal has gained in foreign markets, and it may even gain new market share. Tourists, investors and families are no longer looking only for seaside cities, now they also want privacy, isolation and the exclusivity that is one of Portugal's flagships. This is why the Alto Douro Wine Region, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, has a growth potential like probably no other national region.
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In Porto and North of Portugal, the main markets in the nautical tourism sector coincide with those of the real estate sector, and are the North American, Canadian, English and some European markets, such as the German and Dutch markets. The domestic market also plays a very important role in these sectors. This will help explain the rapid tourism recovery after the two-year gap caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The best national year happened in 2019, when the country reached 27 million tourists and 18,000 million in revenue. In 2021, it stood at 50 per cent, but this year 2022 estimates put it at 85 per cent. In 2023, according to the Secretary of State for Tourism, it is expected to recover the data of 2019.
In this scenario, the growth of exclusive tourism is inevitable, so the investment is very appealing. For example, Invictus Cruises, a luxury nautical tourism company created during the pandemic, representative in Portugal of the Italian brand Invictus Yacht, has just invested 1.5 million euros in a boat that is unique in the country and the 14th in the world (there are only 22 boats like this in the world, all numbered and certified), to navigate the 210 kilometres of sheltered waters of the Douro, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The boat, 14 metres long and 4.43 wide, has the capacity to carry 12 passengers and two crew members. And it designs programmes according to the clients' wishes. The appearance of hotel infrastructures and quality projects in Porto and in the Douro has also been determinant for a growth that, however, has had the concern of not disfiguring the essence of the region, falling in a concept of massification. In an interview with Lusa, Alexandre Soares, manager of Ondastar, believes that the Douro River will be "an incubator for premium boat brands", making it no longer necessary to go to the Algarve or Lisbon to buy luxury boats.
In the Algarve, the sector that is on the rise is golf courses, whose bookings, according to statements by the president of the National Confederation of the Golf Industry (CNIG), Luís Correia da Silva, to the weekly newspaper "Expresso", have already exceeded 2019 levels. In aviation, a bright summer is also expected. Faro international airport has already recovered 93% of connections, to which it will add six new routes and 10 reinforced frequencies to eight countries. It is no surprise, therefore, that the US company Delta, with daily services between Lisbon and Boston and New York, has announced that it has "record occupancy rates between Portugal and the USA for this summer".
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