Portuguese Government Manages to Revive High-Speed Rail Link

Recently the Portuguese government stated that a plan to build a network of high-speed rail lines had been cancelled, and that some of the European Union subsidies for this project were to be redirected into freight transport.

This plan has led to the government managing to secure funding for a high-speed link between Lisbon and Madrid. Initially the European Union had withdrawn funding for the high-speed link between the two capitals due to Portugal’s decision to cease work on the project.

Apparently the Finance Ministry in Portugal has now received funding for the project through the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility funding, and the government has managed to hold onto the European Union funding for the link while reducing the percentage of EU funding.

The previous agreement has now been nullified, and new funding for the project has increased from 25% to 40%. However the plan for a high-speed passenger link doesn’t look as if it will be revived, as the emphasis is now on rail freight. The government is looking to link Lisbon with the rest of Europe, and expects a rail line could reduce costs to exporters by 40%, and could increase the capacity by up to 80%. Whereas a passenger rail link would have cost €4.276 billion, the freight line is anticipated to cost just €700 million, and the government only needs to find €175 million due to European Union subsidies.

This is obviously good news for exporters, and Portugal’s trade deficit narrowed during the last quarter to €.58 billion compared to €3.12 billion a year earlier. Exports increased by 1%, while imports decreased by 3%.

 

Portuguese Property Stabilising after Several Rough Years

Estate agents in Portugal now believe the market is stabilising, having experienced several years of falling prices. Immediately after the financial crisis prices dropped by up to 30%, but last year the market began to correct itself. Property prices for luxury homes dropped considerably less, falling by 15% to 20%. This is probably due to the fact that wealthier buyers are less likely to have mortgages, while others reliant on funding would have found it more difficult to obtain a loan due to tighter lending restrictions.

Luxury apartments in the centre of Lisbon currently cost between €5,000 and €6,000 per square metre, while apartments in less upscale neighborhoods currently go for around €5,000 per square metre. Older apartments in Amoreiras are likely to cost between €3,500 and €4,000 per square metre, while newer apartments could cost as much as €5,500 per square metre. The Estoril Coast, just half an hour’s drive from Lisbon is popular amongst surfers and for its casinos. Apartments here can cost as much as double as those in the city.

Most overseas buyers are looking for property in Lisbon or the Algarve, and around 60% of buyers in the Algarve are international. Most are from Britain, although the area is also popular with buyers from Spain, Italy, Scandinavia and Germany. The market in Lisbon is a little different, as it’s not so heavily dominated by the British, and just 15% of the property is sold to overseas buyers. Purchasers include those from Western Europe and Russia, as well as buyers from Angola and Brazil, as these countries are Portuguese speaking.

 

Portugal Set for Tourism Boost on Back of Big Waves

Garrett McNamara, a Hawaiian extreme surfer recently broke a world record by surfing a 100 foot wave of the Portuguese fishing village of Nazare. Certain regions of Portugal are already popular with surfers, especially the Cortegaca and Algarve regions, but Nazare is quite special in that enormous waves are generated by a combination of unique factors.

Apparently there is a 16,000 foot deep undersea canyon that becomes very shallow near the village, creating ideal conditions for huge waves during wintertime storms. The publicity surrounding the recent record breaking waves hasn’t escaped the attention of Portugal’s tourism office.

It’s been keen to point out that Portugal has 450 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, and some excellent surfing beaches. Other places where ideal conditions generate the perfect waves for surfing include California, Brazil and of course Hawaii, all of which are a lot less accessible than Portugal.

Portugal has some beautifully unspoiled white sandy beaches that give direct access to perfect waves. When combined with beautiful scenery, an inexpensive cost of living and great local foods and wines it’s easy to see why this European country is popular with surfers looking for an affordably luxurious holiday destiantion.

Popular locations for surfing include Lagos in the Algarve, Ericeira, which is a beautiful traditional Portuguese town, Cascais, a town known for its rich history, and Peniche which attracts some of the top surfers in the world. Portuguese property is currently extremely affordable, and this is the perfect location for anyone who enjoys surfing and who would like to earn income from renting out their holiday home.

 

Young Portuguese Graduates Focusing More on Start-ups

Although unemployment in Portugal has risen considerably, the Portuguese youth are adapting to cope with the changing economic environment. While parts of the commercial district in Lisbon may be quieter than in the past, this isn’t true for the whole of the city. In a former silversmiths Street in Lisbon enterprising graduates have set up to 45 brand-new start-up companies in a project called Startups Lisboa. Not surprisingly these companies are Internet-based.

For instance one entrepreneur has designed a web platform connecting professionals and tradesman to potential clients. In the past this business might not have done so well, but now businesses are more anxious to advertise their skills. The project has gained a lot of inspiration from the United States, as it is hoped that having several entrepreneurs working side-by-side will help boost optimism and ideas.

The project is already proving hugely popular, as the president of Startups Lisboa has already received more than 600 applications. According to its president, Joao Vasconcelos, studies have shown that Portuguese people are amongst the most enterprising in Europe, and many unemployed businesspeople are choosing to create their own jobs by moving into these types of places.

This entrepreneurship is also taking place outside the capital, as young people have begun starting up dozens of new companies using funds from the European Union and the state. Apparently many are turning towards farming, as government data shows approximately 260 new farms are being created every week. Even though they may not have any farming experience, they may have graduated with other skills such as business, technology and management that are invaluable in helping to set up a company.

 

The Attractions of Buying Property in the Algarve

The Algarve is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and certainly in Portugal. It is visited by around 10 million visitors each year, 7 million of whom come from outside the country. A lot of them come from the UK, but the region is also very popular with other northern European nations.

It is situated on the southernmost tip of Portugal, and was originally the centre of trade when the country was occupied by the Moors; in fact its name originates from the Arabic word for West. As a result the Algarve has a very rich history and culture.

However it’s attractions that extend far beyond this, as it has around 155 km of coastline along its southern edge, and some truly beautiful beaches. The western edge of the region has around 88 km of coastline that are home to picturesque rocky coves.

The climate makes it easy to take advantage of all these beaches year-round, as even in the winter the temperatures can reach as high as 25°C, while in the summer they can peak at around 48°C. These factors mean it is a very popular winter holiday destination.

The tourism boom originally began in the 60s, and since then this region has seen substantial investment into facilities. There is a huge range of facilities and amenities including excellent golf courses and water parks. Some resorts are more family oriented while others are aimed at couples looking for a quieter holiday. Although many of the results are busy, Portugal does have a laid back atmosphere, and its huge ex-pat population means English is widely spoken and understood.