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With a Major Seaport, Lisbon Remains a Critical Hub of Commerce

by Debra Bokur

Nov 15, 2021


November 2021

In days gone by, great ships laden with coveted goods set sail from Lisbon’s port, bound for faraway locales. Like other settlements that developed along sea coasts and rivers with deep, natural harbors, Lisbon matured as a vital part of an international trade network. Today it’s still the location of one of Europe’s principal commercial and container ports, with business as usual.

Despite setbacks created by the pandemic, the business forecast for Lisbon remains positive and includes projected salary increases averaging 2.2 percent within the private sector during 2022. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2021 Investment Climate Statement on Portugal, the country’s Recovery and Resilience Plan efforts will benefit from an economic boost in the form of about €14 billion in European Union grants expected to be delivered between this year and 2026 — much of it earmarked to back energy and digital transitions.

In the pre-pandemic world, Portugal’s services sphere — especially tourism — supplied much of the momentum for economic recovery and growth. Closely associated with the leisure tourism market, the number of planned conferences and conventions (a key sector for Lisbon) has dwindled significantly. Over the past few years, heavy industries such as the automobile sector have been joined by construction, energy and technology as crucial, expanding components of a mutable economy.

“Foreign companies receive very competitive tax incentives that are in full compliance with EU regulations,” said Nisan Larido, vice president, Brand & Product, Gold Tree Hospitality. “Large corporations are taking advantage of this and moving their offices or even headquarters to Lisbon, which is driving a large number of their employees to relocate.”

Mainstay industries such as agriculture, textiles and footwear have pivoted to accommodate the world’s changing needs and have grown into important exports. Adaptation is essential, as demonstrated by luxury Portuguese shoe designers including Luis Onofre, who shifted his design focus from an exclusive portfolio of swanky high heels and upmarket men’s shoes to more footwear appropriate for health care professionals and work-at-home scenarios. High heels in particular have taken an understandable hit in a world where comfort has become a priority. Today Portuguese footwear with rubber soles and environmentally friendly materials are seeing a boost in popularity.

The lack of legal restrictions in Portugal with regard to foreign investment makes Lisbon, in particular, an attractive base for large companies. The long list of multinational companies with a major presence in Lisbon includes Nokia, Siemens, Vodaphone, Teleperformance, Fujitsu, Microsoft, Novartis, Mercedes-Benz International, Marriott International, Sky and L’Oréal.

When it comes to tourism, there’s still a lot of ground to recover, but the sector is making progress. British travelers have traditionally comprised a significant tourist base in Lisbon, the location of the country’s main international airport. The decision by the British government to resume air travel to Portugal has been important. In addition, TAP (Portugal’s national airline) has resumed flights from all nine North American gateways, with incentives that include the Book With Confidence program. This program enables passengers to make changes to their booking with no additional fees, provided they do so up to three days before their flight (the program applies to purchases made by Dec. 31, 2021, and excludes discount fares).

“Over the past five years, Lisbon has experienced a massive growth both in the volume of tourists that visit the city and in its economy — supported by said visitors,” said Larido. “Lisbon continues to develop its tourism infrastructure by investing substantial amounts of funding in hospitality and simplifying the process for companies to receive its hospitality permits.”

While tourism begins to recuperate, tech companies have recognized the advantages offered by a presence in Portugal’s capital. This includes a number of startups in the tech space including YData, Vawlt, Quantam Leap and Navaro. Startups with an entertainment angle such as ScorePlay, an AI-powered management platform for sporting clubs; voice-driven game studio Dopplo; and Augmented Reality content creator MyLADS are also looking to put down roots in Lisbon. Already in place to make travel easier for a new wave of tourists is LUGGit, a personalized transportation service that tracks and delivers baggage to travelers — including that bag packed with comfy designer shoes.

Vice president, Brand & Product, Gold Tree Hospitality, including Stay&Co.

The concept of a private luxury apartment as an alternative to a hotel stay has an undeniable appeal in these days of social distancing. How would you describe your typical client?
Although the “serviced apartment” and “aparthotel” segments are booming (especially during the pandemic), the need for a new, hybrid product that optimizes both the guest experience and functionality has been permeating for quite some time.

Typical guests of Stay&Co. range from young professionals and entrepreneurs who can work just about anywhere with a strong WiFi signal to corporate travelers on assignments. These guests work in key positions or manage their own companies and need to remain dynamic and flexible when on the road.

We believe our guests don’t have to compromise or be confined to shoebox-sized hotel rooms in order to experience Lisbon’s thriving city center, nor need they book a cookie-cutter apartment that adds nothing to their travel experience and is likely located in a far-flung business district a taxi ride away from all the action.

Stay&Co. offers a solution that provides guests the comforts of a fully furnished, stylishly fashioned apartment located in the city center just walking distance from hyperlocal hot spots, coffeeshops, art galleries and attractions in areas such as Cais de Sodre, Principe Real or Alfama.

What economic factors led to the decision to expand into the Lisbon market?
Before entering a new market, we conduct an in-depth, participant-driven market study coupled with insight and consultancy from top-tier hospitality advisors. Our Lisbon study identified the city’s vast potential for a serviced apartment brand unlike anything currently on the market. We understand there is an influx of digital nomads, young professionals, corporate travelers and relocation needs flooding Lisbon, which ultimately raises the demand for flexible-stay solutions and extended stays — and a product that is uniform and easily identifiable. The market for serviced apartments in Lisbon is still in its infancy.

How do you localize the experience for Stay&Co. guests?
We developed a design philosophy called “Urban- Pop” together with our lead architect Adi Ben Nun and designer Ingrid Aparicio. The “urban” part determines the materials and the actual shape and design of each location, based on the local architecture and materials available in each city we enter. “Pop” is influenced by the local culture and determines the color palette, the art and the accessories we use. We hire local designers in each city who understand what the city is all about, know the local suppliers and can really implement the “Urban-Pop” philosophy. Part of our agenda is to “let the city in,” so all the art and accessories we source is the work of locals.

For the artwork in each of the Lisbon apartments, we partnered with both local artist Delia Hamer and Underdogs Gallery, a world-acclaimed cultural platform based in Lisbon that encompasses a gallery, a public art program and art book publisher known as a breeding ground and launch site for Portuguese artists. Portuguese designers Judite Pereira and Antonio Carvalho created tables, furniture pieces, bed frames and curtains. These activities support our claim of being a locally minded brand that supports homegrown creatives and has a distinct style associated with the location.




The demand for Portuguese products may drive much of the business in Lisbon, but the city — one of the world’s oldest — has long been loved for its stunning beauty. Today that cachet is as powerful as ever. Enjoy a ride on a historic tram and steep yourself in views from Castelo de São Jorge. Or explore the wide array of museums, which include Museum of Decorative Arts, housed within the 17th-century Palácio Azurara; MUDE design museum; Roman Theatre Museum; National Archaeological Museum; National Tile Museum; and Fado Museum. Stroll the winding streets to admire the myriad architectural styles, monuments and statuary, including the city’s colossal Rua Agusta arch and the waterfront Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument, dedicated to historical figures who led Portugal’s Age of Discoveries.

An excellent way to capture your memories and impressions is on a guided, 2.5-hour Lisbon Film Photography Excursion offered by Eager Tourist. This private tour is led by a city expert and professional photographer who presents each participant with a 35mm camera preloaded with 36 frames of film while also providing hands-on guidance on photography techniques. As part of the experience, Eager Tourist develops guests’ film and mails the photographs to them within three days, providing them with lasting documentation of a unique and personal perspective of Lisbon.

Time zone: GMT (GMT+1 Daylight Saving Time)
Phone code: Country code 351 City code 21
Currency: Euro
Key industries: Oil refining, chemical industries, auto manufacturing and assembly, textiles, footwear, electronics and tech, wood pulp and cork production, fish and beverage processing

U.S. citizens must have a passport valid for up to 90 days, with three months’ validity beyond planned departure date and two blank pages. Travelers not staying in a hotel or tourist accommodation must register their arrival with the Portuguese Immigration Service (SEF) within three business days of arrival.



The newly updated historic hotel offers an invigorating take on glamour at city center. Enjoy the outdoor running track, heated lap pool and full-service spa center.
Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 88

Elegant and serene, this downtown hotel has plenty of uptown flair, providing a London townhome ambience with light-filled spaces, local art and splendid antiques.
Av. da Liberdade 164

Part of the Autograph Collection of Hotels, this sophisticated boutique property — complete with parrots, velvet armchairs and luxury services — offers an experience reflect- ing the city’s spirit of adventure.
Rua Capelo 5


The second partnership between Chef Bruno Caseiro and pastry chef Filipa Gonçalves offers tried-and-true favorites such as lime-seasoned prawns served on crackers made from crisp chicken skin. Reservations recommended.
Rua da Boavista 86

Combining food and music, this popular new eatery bills itself as a “listening bar.” The bar menu features clever cocktails such as the Hibiscus Fizz.
Travessa do Carvalho 13

The family-owned restaurant serves local dishes and an extensive selection of Portuguese wines. House specialties include Empada Especial do Frade. Dine at the U-shaped bar and sample traditional petiscos rice dishes.
Calçada da Ajuda 14

Humberto Delgado Airport, also called Lisbon Airport or Portelo Airport, lies approximately four miles — or 20 minutes — from city center. Transportation options include rental car, taxi, metro, bus, shuttle and train. The Aeroporto–Saldanha metro line links directly to city center; use requires a reloadable 7 Colinas/ Viva Viagem electronic travel card. The card is also valid on Carris city buses, though buses have strict maximum baggage allowances of 19.6 inches by 15.7 inches by 7.8 inches. If your bag exceeds these dimensions, the dedicated Aerobus and Airport shuttles offer options to the city. The airport’s metro line also connects to Gare do Oriente, Lisbon’s main train station. Official, licensed taxis can be found in queues outside of the arrivals hall; avoid independent drivers soliciting fares in the baggage area. Most major car rental agencies are represented at the airport.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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