Why Is This Americans’ Favorite New Tourist Destination? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Why Is This Americans’ Favorite New Tourist Destination?
Cristo Rei statue, Lisbon, Portugal (Creative Cat Studio/Shutterstock)

As a Spaniard, the record figures for U.S. tourism in Portugal leave me with a bittersweet taste. On the one hand, it saddens me if it’s because they’re no longer visiting Spain. On the other hand, I am happy to see them discovering the paradise of our Portuguese neighbors, with whom we share much more than a peninsula. Last July saw the number of tourists from the United States in Portugal (over 183,200) reach record numbers, and it’s an upward trend. The Portuguese say that the key is safety, quality of life, and hospitality.

Although this is a trend from before the pandemic, the truth is that Portugal has done its tourist homework better than many other destinations on the Old Continent, including Spain. Security is certainly not a minor issue: I do not believe that jihadist attacks are a reason to stop visiting a country — that would be double punishment for its citizens — but the truth is that the Portuguese have hardly received any threats and their country has not been victim to attacks. Portugal’s latest Annual Internal Security Report confirmed it to be the safest country in Europe and one of the safest in the world. But I do not recommend that you lose sight of your wallet while riding the Lisbon subway.

People only talk about Portugal to praise it for the economic miracle it has performed over the last few years and to trumpet the goodness of its political stability and its tourism.

Unlike Spain, which has a social-communist government that is doing everything wrong, Portugal enjoys a government that, although socialist, is being intelligent: Its Prime Minister António Costa keeps lowering taxes to boost the economy of the middle classes. Thus, the Portuguese economy is growing while the rest of the European Union will not see an end to the recession until at least next year. The government has invested in tourism, and it is doing so well that the sector is driving the whole country’s economy.

Portugal is, of course, Lisbon and Porto. The sun, the beach, and the Atlantic. The religious fervor of the Sanctuary of Fátima. A surfer’s paradise. And a treasure trove for gastronomy and wine lovers. And then there are the Portuguese themselves, always welcoming, making things that much easier. And if Portugal also has a seductive cultural heritage, the traveler should not forget that it hides an extra bonus prize: Just a few hours by train or a few minutes by plane and you can reach any corner of Spain’s vast heritage, making the sum and proximity of both countries an enviable tourist incentive throughout Europe. (READ MORE from Itxu Díaz: Columbus Day and Hispanic Day Are Triumphs for Western Civilization)

It saddens me to see that Spain only appears in the press when the media is reporting on how poorly our economy is doing or broadcasting the latest stupidity from the government of idiots we have to endure: things like the sick transsexual law that, against the criteria of every psychiatrists’ association, permits the castration of minors; revanchist nonsense like digging up Gen. Francisco Franco’s mummy and taking it out for a walk before burying it somewhere else; and, of course, let’s not forget that we are the only European country with communists in its government. I trust we will soon be kicking their butts. In the meantime, it is fair to admit that our Portuguese brothers are doing it better. People only talk about Portugal to praise it for the economic miracle it has performed over the last few years and to trumpet the goodness of its political stability and its tourism.

I sincerely hope that Americans continue to visit Portugal, sunbathing on the beautiful beaches of the Algarve, strolling through the wineries of the Douro Valley, and enjoying fado in Lisbon and Porto’s bars. And I hope they will continue to visit Spain as well. After all, we Spaniards are still hospitable; there is not much I need tell you about our beaches, be they the beautiful and cold ones in the north or the warm ones in the south; we have some of the best gastronomy in the world; we have Cervantes, Saint Teresa of Jesus, the Prado Museum, and beautiful Andalusian brunettes; we believe that there is happiness in wine; and few things are comparable to walking through the old quarters of our most historic cities, aside from falling to your knees at the sight of the beautiful cathedral that houses the crypt of the Apostle Santiago. And it’s not our fault that we have a government full of idiots. Actually, it is a bit, but not entirely.

Itxu Díaz
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Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist, and author. He has written 10 books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller, National Review, American Conservative, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, as well as a columnist at several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain.
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