portugal flag and food in restaurant

Turismo de Portugal has invested around 800,000 euros this year in promoting its gastronomy, the largest amount ever, half of which will be invested in the first exclusively Portuguese Michelin Guide gala, an official announced.

“2023 makes a difference from the point of view of promoting Portugal as a gastronomic destination,” said Lídia Monteiro, member of the board of directors of Turismo de Portugal, during a meeting in Lisbon with the press about the gala to present the Portuguese part of the Michelin Guide Spain and Portugal 2024, which will take place on February 27 in the Algarve.

According to Monteiro, the total amount spent this year was around 800,000 euros, almost half of which on the gala. Another notable event was the ‘Taste of London’, organized in collaboration with the Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Similar Services of Portugal (AHRESP) last June.

“The UK is a very important market, it’s the main market for tourists,” said Lídia Monteiro. Spain is “a strong proximity market”, where the “public has a great appetite” and “already knows Portuguese gastronomy”, she added.

Further afield, the USA and Brazil are two other markets that deserve Turismo de Portugal’s investment, because tourists from these countries place gastronomy as a reason for their trip.

“For some time now, we have been working consistently to promote gastronomy. The [covid-19] pandemic put the brakes on and 2023 was a very important year to restart our activity,” he said, anticipating that the trend will continue next year.

In 2024, “people will travel more and be more interested in gastronomy,” he said.

In February, Michelin is organizing its first gala exclusively dedicated to Portugal – until the 2023 edition of the guide, the ceremony to present the distinguished restaurants was always held jointly between Spain and Portugal, and almost always took place in Spanish cities, with the exception of the 2019 guide, in Lisbon.

“With an exclusive ceremony for the Portugal selection, the Michelin Guide highlights the ever-increasing excellence that inspectors find in Portugal, (…) which has shown remarkable culinary growth in recent times,” said Michelin Spain and Portugal’s communications director, Monica Rius.

In Portugal, she added, “there has been a clear positive evolution in the last decade, with a good selection of national chefs with excellent training and ambition to improve, who are presenting interesting proposals, offering modern Portuguese cuisine, which, based on traditional flavors, seeks to surprise with new presentations and textures.”

According to the communications manager, “the interest in Portuguese cuisine and Portugal is visible in the large influx of tourists to cities of great attraction and interest, such as Lisbon and Porto, which serve as a base for these gastronomic restaurants, opening up frontiers and striving for excellence.”

Portugal currently has a total of 164 restaurants in the guide, including seven with two stars (‘excellent cuisine, worth the detour’), 30 with one star (‘great cuisine, worth a stop’), three with a Green star (distinguishes the sustainability of the cuisine), 37 Bib Gourmand (good quality/price meal, around 45 euros) and 90 recommended.

The fact that the gala is being held in Portugal does not mean that the inspectors are national, explained the organization: the Michelin Guide, which is present in 45 countries, has international teams, made up of inspectors from 15 nationalities – including Portuguese.

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