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Portugal could receive up to 1m Chinese tourists per year
Portugal could receive up to 1m Chinese tourists per year
 
The Portuguese ambassador in Beijing, Jorge Torres-Pereira, said that Portugal could aim to reach 1 million Chinese tourists a year. He made the statement just hours ahead of the first direct flight between Beijing and Lisbon.
 
"At the moment, we are at 200,000, if we increase by 35% per year, we can quickly be ambitious," Torres-Pereira said.
 
The Portuguese diplomat was speaking at Terminal 1 of Beijing International Airport, where at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday (6:10 p.m. in Lisbon) the first flight between the two countries will take off.
 
China is already the world's largest issuer of tourists and, according to official statistics, 135.1 million Chinesetravelled out of mainland China in 2016, up 12.5% over the previous year.
 
To accompany this growth, Portugal's tourism agency Turismo de Portugal has, since 2014, had a permanent office in Shanghai, the economic "capital" of China.
 
Portugal also has nine visa centres in the Asian country, in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, Shenyang, Wuhan, Fuzhou, and Guangzhou.
 
The flight will be offered three times a week - Wednesday, Friday and Sunday - between the city of Hangzhou, on the east coast of China, and Lisbon, with a stop in Beijing.
 
For the first two weeks, flights between Beijing and Lisbon already have an average occupancy of 80%, while in the opposite direction - between Portugal and China - occupancy is at 62%, a source from China's Capital Airlines told Lusa on Tuesday.
 
The airline will also open up a flight between Macau and the Chinese capital, which will coincide with the connection to Lisbon, in order to serve the 15,000 Portuguese who live in the territory which was formerly under Portuguese administration.
 
Torres-Pereira considered the direct link "important to maintain the dynamics of a bilateral relationship that is effectively expanding," and stressed the importance of the flight in the connection between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and Brazil, with Lisbon as a hub.
 
The ambassador also recalled that in recent years, Chinese investments in Portugal have gone from "tens of millions of euros to billions of euros".
 
"There is no doubt that we have come onto the Chinese investment radar and, to use a British expression, the sky's the limit," he concluded.
 
  Source: The Portugal News

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