Top 7 EU Initiatives That Are Transforming Tourism in Portugal

Tourism is a vital sector for Portugal, contributing significantly to its economy and cultural exchange. As part of the European Union, Portugal has been able to leverage several EU-funded initiatives aimed at enhancing its tourism industry. These programs not only boost the visitor experience but also promote sustainable practices, ensuring that tourism growth does not come at the expense of the nation’s heritage or natural resources. In this blog, we explore the top seven EU initiatives that are reshaping the tourism landscape in Portugal.

Horizon 2020: Funding Innovation in Tourism

Portugal’s tourism sector is experiencing a transformative boost, thanks to the Horizon 2020 program. This landmark EU initiative, with an impressive budget aimed at fostering innovation across Europe, has been pivotal in advancing sustainable and cutting-edge projects within the Portuguese tourism industry. From eco-friendly developments in hotel services to the integration of artificial intelligence and virtual reality in enhancing tourist experiences, Horizon 2020 is paving the way for a new era of travel in Portugal.

Travelers looking to explore Portugal can now enjoy these innovations firsthand with customized Portugal tour packages. These packages offer a blend of traditional charm and modern convenience, showcasing the best of Portugal’s rich cultural tapestry enhanced by technological advancements. Whether it’s a VR tour of historic sites or eco-friendly accommodations, these tour packages are designed to provide a unique and sustainable travel experience, making every trip unforgettable. Dive into the future of travel with Portugal’s exciting tour offerings, all made possible by Horizon 2020.

COSME: Enhancing Competitiveness in the Tourism Sector

In an effort to revitalize Portugal’s tourism industry, the COSME program has been pivotal in enhancing the competitiveness of local enterprises, including those offering unique experiences like motorcycle tours Portugal. COSME provides critical financial and advisory support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), enabling them to upgrade their services and extend their reach to a broader audience. This initiative is particularly significant for niche markets, such as motorcycle tourism, which attract a distinct segment of adventure-seeking tourists. By improving marketing strategies and facility quality, COSME helps these businesses stand out in a crowded market, ensuring they attract and provide exceptional experiences to tourists looking for something beyond the conventional scenic drives. With COSME’s backing, motorcycle tours across Portugal’s breathtaking landscapes are not just adventures but are also becoming key components in promoting sustainable and diversified tourism in the country. This boosts the overall appeal of Portugal as a top travel destination in Europe.

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF): Infrastructure and Accessibility

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are revolutionizing tourism in Portugal by enhancing infrastructure and accessibility. With ESIF support, Portugal is upgrading roads, expanding airports, and improving public transportation systems, making it easier for tourists to explore beyond popular cities like Lisbon and Porto. These enhancements are vital for unlocking the potential of lesser-known regions, offering visitors a glimpse into the diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage found throughout the countryside. By investing in infrastructure, the ESIF not only boosts local economies but also promotes sustainable tourism development. This ensures that all regions of Portugal can share in the benefits of a thriving tourism sector, attracting a broader audience of travelers eager to discover new destinations. As a result, Portugal is fast becoming a more inclusive and accessible destination for all, promising a richer and more varied travel experience for visitors from around the globe.

ERASMUS+ for Young Entrepreneurs: Fostering Innovation

ERASMUS+ for Young Entrepreneurs is a transformative program fueling innovation across Europe, and Portugal is leveraging it to boost its burgeoning tourism sector. This initiative facilitates a cross-border exchange that allows budding entrepreneurs in Portugal to collaborate with seasoned business owners throughout Europe. Participants gain invaluable practical experience, exposure to diverse business cultures, and fresh insights into managing tourism-related businesses. This exposure is crucial for fostering a new wave of innovative services tailored to enhance the tourist experience in Portugal. From eco-friendly travel solutions to technology-driven guest services, the program encourages a vibrant exchange of ideas, driving forward-thinking strategies that reshape Portugal’s tourism landscape. ERASMUS+ not only enriches the participants’ entrepreneurial skills but also strengthens the overall competitiveness of Portugal’s tourism industry on a global scale. This synergy of youthful innovation and experienced guidance promises a brighter future for Portuguese tourism, making it more dynamic and sustainable.

Creative Europe: Promoting Cultural Tourism

Portugal, with its rich tapestry of history and vibrant cultural scene, is a prime beneficiary of the EU’s Creative Europe program. This initiative breathes life into Portugal’s cultural tourism by funding a variety of projects, from art exhibitions and cultural festivals to the preservation of historic sites. Through Creative Europe, Portugal not only showcases its unique heritage but also ensures that these cultural treasures are accessible to an international audience.

The impact of this funding is profound. It not only boosts local economies by attracting more tourists but also strengthens the connection between culture and tourism. Tourists are not just passive observers but become part of a lively cultural exchange, experiencing Portugal’s traditions and contemporary art movements firsthand.

Creative Europe’s support is vital in promoting sustainable cultural tourism that respects and preserves the local heritage while fostering a greater understanding among visitors. This approach helps make cultural tourism a cornerstone of Portugal’s appeal as a destination, enriching the tourist experience and enhancing the country’s charm and competitiveness on the global stage.

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD): Boosting Rural Tourism

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) is pivotal in redefining rural tourism in Portugal and beyond. By channeling funds into rural regions, EAFRD encourages a tourism model that not only supports local economies but also preserves cultural heritage. This initiative promotes agritourism, ecotourism, and the celebration of local crafts, offering tourists a glimpse into the traditional lifestyles and natural beauty of less frequented areas. The funding helps small-scale producers and businesses enhance their visibility and accessibility to tourists, creating sustainable attractions and activities that respect the environment and local traditions. The impact is profound—revitalizing communities and ensuring that the benefits of tourism are widely distributed. Through the EAFRD, rural areas are transformed into vibrant hubs of activity and culture, attracting visitors looking for authentic, enriching experiences. This not only helps maintain the rural landscape but also secures a future where tourism contributes positively to regional development.

The Digital Europe Programme: Enhancing Digital Transformation in Tourism

The Digital Europe Programme stands at the forefront of advancing Portugal’s tourism industry through cutting-edge technology. Aimed at digital transformation, this EU initiative is injecting innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and blockchain into the sector. These advancements are set to revolutionize how tourists explore Portugal, making trips more personalized, convenient, and immersive. For instance, blockchain technology is enhancing security and transparency in hotel bookings, while IoT applications are improving crowd management at popular tourist sites.


The European Union’s initiatives are playing a crucial role in transforming tourism in Portugal by making it more sustainable, inclusive, and diversified. These programs are not just enhancing the tourist experience but are also creating economic opportunities that benefit a wider range of the population. As Portugal continues to develop and implement these initiatives, the future of tourism looks bright, promising a balance between growth and preservation. This holistic approach ensures that Portugal remains one of the most desirable destinations in Europe, drawing visitors from around the world who are seeking unique, enriching, and enjoyable experiences.