Portugal has seen an influx of tourists from the UAE, with numbers increasing 140 per cent in the last year, an official has said.
The increase in tourism numbers was spurred by the launch of a daily Emirates flight route to Lisbon back in July 2012. 
Claudia Miguel, trade relations for tourism in Portugal,  said, “the launch of the route of Emirates to Lisbon, opened up Portugal to markets that it wasn’t part of before, it also made us a tourist destination in the region, and we saw this with the increase in tourist figures, which we see increasing more and more.”
The GCC’s residents also find Portugal the ideal place for sports schools, said Miguel.
“Many people from the region find Portugal interesting for sports in particular sports clinics. Many families send their children to these training schools, and of course we have Cristiano Ronaldo who has many fans here and he has become the ambassador for Emirates, so I think the word has spread, and Portugal has been put on the map as a tourist destination for people here in the region and the UAE.”
In May, Portugal saw an overwhelming response from the CEI Atoleiros, the equestrian endurance event sponsored by Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of UAE. The event was held in the town of Fronteira in the Alentejo region.
“The equestrian event held in May put Portugal at the forefront of tourist destinations for Gulf residents, we saw an overwhelming number of visitors, and a lot of them came back, which is good to see.”
It is not just tourists from the UAE that are heading to Portugal but Portuguese nationals are also seeing the UAE as an increasingly attractive destination to visit, due to its proximity to Asia.
“Dubai as a destination is an attractive stopover for routes to Thailand and Australia. A lot of tourists from Portugal like to stay in Dubai for a few days on the way to the Far East, this is an increasing trend we are seeing.”
When it comes to international tourists, Portugal is also seeing a rise in numbers.
“We received around more than eight million international tourists last year and we as a population are only 10 million, so we can say there is great growth in tourism numbers in Portugal. So things are looking pretty good.
“We are also beginning to receive a lot of Chinese tourists, and we are catering our services to receive them better as they have very particular tastes and requirements. So even the nationality of our tourists is changing.
“In terms of tourists from emerging markets we can say that it is increasing by 70 per cent a year,” added Miguel.