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Portugal Tourism, Hotel Revenues Up In May

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The number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal jumped more than 11 percent in May from a year earlier, helping drive hotel revenues higher at the start of the holiday season in the recession-hit country.

Overall revenues from tourism, including hotels, account for around 10 percent of Portugal's gross domestic product.

The National Statistics Institute figures showed on Monday that in the first five months of the year, 2.8 million foreign visitors, or nearly 8 percent more than a year earlier, stayed in Portuguese hotels. Hotel revenues rose 3 percent to EUR€600 million (USD$783 million).

In May alone, the revenues jumped 7 percent.

Although the number of foreign tourists hit a record high last year, hotels took less money as the economic crisis forced them to cut prices to attract customers.

Portugal is mired in its worst recession since the 1970s, with the country's economic growth prospects damaged by deeply unpopular austerity measures the government has had to enforce under its EUR€78 billion EU/IMF bailout.

GDP shrank 3.2 percent last year and is expected to contract at least another 2.3 percent this year.

(Reuters)