It has been 10 years since the European Financial Crisis of 2008. In 2011, Portugal’s request for financial assistance through loans worth €78 billion from the EU and IMF came with directives of the Troika to implement austerity measures in order to see to the funds being returned. Under the right-wing government, these policies were quickly implemented, despite the crippling effect it would have on the population. This also included cutting spending on public services including healthcare. The dissatisfaction with such policies which had a crippling effect on the lives of Portuguese people was particularly seen through protests in Lisbon.
The repercussions of the crisis often focus on austerity measures implemented in the country, displacing many in search of jobs elsewhere within the EU and indeed afar. However, following the election of a left-wing, socialist government, the shift away from austerity has said to have brought about a drastic improvement in the economy. By 2017, Portugal had repaid its bailout loans. Rejecting austerity and investment in social enterprise supported the situation. However, it was also the blossoming of another industry that supported this change, namely tourism. In 2017, Portugal recorded receiving 12.7 million international tourists, a third of which was to Lisbon. Lisbon, in particular, has become a hub of attraction not only for leisure seekers, but also those looking for employment in the sector. The relatively low cost of living, compared to the remainder of Western Europe, is another point of attraction. The capital Lisbon continues to attract young people en masse who choose to stay for prolonged periods of time owing to the allure of the location. Simultaneous to this, young Portuguese people have been leaving the country in search of better-paid employment even before the crisis. This decline in the country’s population has resulted in the Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, calling for a push in immigration to the country, particularly skilled labour.
Despite the positive implications of tourism which, it would appear, results in migration to the country for long durations, these changes to come with some warnings. As people migrate and visit the city, it raises questions about the sustainability of such an industry, including whether the country has considered problems of over-tourism. Nevertheless, Portugal has somewhat emerged from its cocoon of crisis. It is yet to be seen whether tourism carries the country into a utopia or dystopic Brave New World.