Portugal economy enjoying Euro fillip

LISBON • Portugal's European Championship triumph in Paris netted the team not just US$25.5 million (S$34.4 million) in Uefa prize money, but has also bolstered the national economy by boosting tourism, to say nothing of the feel-good factor.

"The Portugal brand has gained in stature. The name of the country has been mentioned countless times. The government could never have afforded such an advertising marketing campaign," Daniel Sa, director of the Portuguese Marketing Institute (Ipam), told AFP.

Ipam puts the potential boost to the economy on the back of footballing glory at €609 million (S$906 million).

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, travel agents, advertisers, media, betting shops, supermarkets, sports boutiques - all have gained a slice of the action as business boomed.

  • €609m

  • The potential boost (S$906 million) to the Portuguese economy following their Euro 2016 triumph.

"People eat, drink, move about - that's consumption which wouldn't have existed without the Euros," said Sa amid celebrations which made the 2011 bailout in order to stave off national bankruptcy seem like ancient history.

"This is a turning point in our country's history," said Nuno Brito, a jobless 39-year-old who turned out to cheer the team on their arrival home.

However, Sa cautioned that while the win will bolster investor confidence, "it won't by any means resolve the country's problems".

Domingos Amaral, a sports business professor, pointed out that "the country is groaning under financial problems - there won't be any economic miracle thanks to the football".

The International Monetary Fund forecasts Portugal's economy will manage just 1 per cent growth this year.

Economics professor Joao Cesar das Neves warned that after Greece won the European Championship at Portugal's expense in 2004 that "Greece then suffered one of the worst financial disasters in history".

But success on the pitch is still good news - and not just for the 23 players who will each pocket a €300,000 bonus.

Sports shops are doing a roaring trade, not least in €140 replica shirts which have sold out.

Not everyone is happy, though.

"I was ready to pay even more for a Portugal shirt - but they've all gone," said Ali Kabli, a Kuwaiti tourist visiting the Nike Store in the historic Lisbon district of Chiado.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline 'Portugal economy enjoying Euro fillip'. Print Edition | Subscribe