Portugal attracts many tourists each year. In 2006, the country was visited by 12.8 million tourists. Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in Portugal's economy contributing about 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The main tourist areas are, by order of importance, the Greater Lisbon (Lisboa), the Algarve, Greater Porto and Northern Portugal (Porto e Norte), Portuguese Islands (Ilhas Portuguesas: Madeira and Azores), and Alentejo.
Lisbon is, after Barcelona, the European city attracting most tourists, with 7 million tourists sleeping in the city's hotels in 2006, the number grew 11.8% compared to previous year. Lisbon in recent years surpassed the Algarve as the leading tourist region in Portugal. Porto and Northern Portugal, especially the urban areas north of Douro River, was the tourist destination which grew most (11.9%) in 2006 and surpassed Madeira, in 2010, as the third most visited destination. Today, most tourists in Portugal are British, Spanish or German, travel in low cost airliners, and are not only in search of the beach and the sun, but mostly searching culture, city breaks, gastronomy, nautical tourism or travel in business.