Portugal’s booming tourism sector can maintain its momentum and grow sustainably, economics minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral has told industry leaders.

Caldeira told the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Europe Leaders’ Forum in Lisbon this week: “Portugal is living in a good moment of tourism.”

He reported Portugal’s tourism revenue grew 19% year on year in 2017 and had grown a further 14% so far this year.

Caldeira said: “What we achieved is not just the work of the government. We made a big effort to be aligned with the private sector, and it is private interests that responded and knew how to deliver.

“We focused on five things. First, we had a strategy for 10 years that was discussed with the private sector.

“Tourism that is very concentrated creates problems. Hotels are packed and then empty. It is not good for jobs and it is damaging for the quality of tourism. So we started promoting more in the shoulder seasons and to tourists who don’t have to travel in peak season.”

Second, he said: “We are growing the territory of tourism – promoting different parts of Portugal, areas that need the jobs more.

“Third, we can’t grow tourism without investment in hotels – renewing hotels and building new hotels across the country. We have more than 100 new hotels being built, mostly four and five-star, and we are renewing hundreds.

“Fourth, innovation – we put tourism at the centre of our digital strategy. Fifth, but the first thing, is training. Tourism is about people dealing with people.”

Caldeira insisted: “We will continue [to grow] without putting too much pressure on our cities and our nature. If we spread [tourism] we can have not just more jobs but with more sustainability.”

He added: “Portugal is a global leader in renewable energy – 65% of our energy came from renewable sources last year and we are expanding solar energy.”