What would be Algarve like without golf?

By: April 25, 2016

It’s hard to imagine the Algarve without thinking of golf, yet there was no golf life on this sunshine coastal area until 1966 when Henry Cotton first laid out the Championship course at Penina. Golf itself came to the Algarve in the 1920s. The first golf course in the Algarve was built between Portimão and the beach of Praia da Rocha.

KPMG claims that golf resorts can be traced back to the early 20th century in Portugal (also in France and Spain). The Algarve region is considered to be one of the most established combined holiday and golf coastal tourism destinations within the region (besides Costa del Sol and Costa Brava in Spain). It is also the main tourism region of Portugal.

Nevertheless, Algarve is likely to continue to focus mainly on international golf tourism in the coming years as the low participation rate among local golfers is not expected to change significantly (Local golfers per golf course in Portugal is cca. 167, when there are 88 golf courses in the country.). The Portuguese economy is also not in the best condition: 12.7% unemployment rate, the trade balance is -10.3 billion Euros and the economy grew only by 1.5% in 2015.

Due to the level of  golf resort supply (40+ golf courses; 45.1% of golf courses supply in Portugal is concentrated in the Algarve. In the Lisbon region, we can find 27.4% of the Portuguese golf courses.), Algarve should think about how could they mitigate not just the seasonality phenomenon, but also the reliance on international golf tourists. Therefore, the Meetings Industry (business tourism) could be a good solution: 75,000 is the current seating capacity of Algarve. At the same time, Algarve cannot afford to neglect the growing cycling and walking industries.

Record year of Portugal tourism and the Algarve golf tourism

Statistics Portugal said that the number of foreign tourists reached 10.18 million in 2015, a rise of ten percent on the previous year, while the number of domestic tourists rose by seven percent to 7.3 million. Statistics Portugal (INE) also revealed that the millions of visitors to these shores boosted hotel revenues to almost 2.5 billion euros.

The 10th annual Holiday Money Report 2016 from Post Office Travel Money also placed the Algarve as the cheapest destination for UK tourists for the first time in five years.


Portugal’s Algarve tops the Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer chart (see above) for the first time in five years as a result of low prices for meals and drinks. The Algarve region is more popular than ever before after record green fee levels were reported with 1.2m rounds played in 2015. Early indications suggest 2016 is set to continue on a similar path.

1966 GOLFER in Algarve