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This European country named Travel + Leisure's destination of the year

Relaxnews (AFP) logoRelaxnews (AFP) 18-12-2016

The Azores, Portugal © AFPRelaxNews The Azores, Portugal Portugal has been named Travel + Leisure magazine's 2016 Destination of the Year, for “exhibiting a dynamism that feels fresh and distinctive.”

Editors of the US travel magazine declared the European country their pick for the most exciting destination of 2016, citing its admirable bounce back from an economic crisis and its robust tourism landscape as leading reasons for bestowing Portugal with the lofty title.

And they have the numbers to prove it.

Between 2015 and 2016, US travel to the country spiked 22 percent. International travel also grew 10 percent.

The number of nonstop flights to Portugal from the US has also increased, with travelers now able to find direct flights from eight US cities.

More than 40 new hotels, many of them high-end, opened in 2016, while Portuguese airline TAP achieved its best performance in 60 years in October thanks to a 119 percent growth in North American bookings.

All this after hitting bottom a few years ago, when the country found itself on the brink of bankruptcy at the height of Europe's economic crisis.

Advantages include climate and affordability

Editors also made a laundry list of reasons for Portugal's growing allure: year-round temperate weather means there's no such thing as a bad time to visit.

Compared to its neighbors, Portugal remains relatively affordable. And for US and Canadian travelers on the Eastern seaboard, the country is just seven hours away.

The country's rich and varied landscape is also said to offer something for everyone.

For beachcombers, there's the seaside town of Comporta. For wine lovers, there's Douro Valley, and for adrenaline junkies there's sailing, hiking, rock climbing, surfing and wildlife spotting in the Azores.

The full story appears in the December issue of Travel + Leisure.

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