Although certain places in Portugal have attracted travelers since the 18th century, mass tourism did not begin until the 1960s. After 1780, English romantics such as Robert Southie, Lord Byron, and other foreign writers put the town of Sintra on the map of romantic places to visit. In the 1920s and 1930s, the town of Estoril, about 32 kilometers (18 miles) west of Lisbon, along the coast, began to be developed as a high-class resort town. During the 1930s, Estoril attracted wealthy Spaniards escaping from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and, after World War II, displaced and dethroned ex-royalty from Europe. Tourism was encouraged in the late 1930s, when the Estado Novo began to restore Portuguese castles in connection with the Double Centenary Exposition of the Portuguese World in 1940, an event designed to attract visitors to Portugal. In the 1960s, the Estado Novo began to develop the infrastructure for a mass tourist industry. Hotels and golf courses were built, especially in the Algarve, and a national system of pousadas (government subsidized inns) was established in restored castles and other historic structures.
   During the 1960s, the number of tourists visiting Portugal reached 6 million per year. Tourists stayed away from Portugal during the turbulent years immediately after the Revolution of 25 April 1974, but returned during the 1980s, and the tourist industry has grown at a phenomenal rate ever since. The number of tourists rose from 7.3 million in 1981-82 to about 18.4 million in 1990. Expo '98, Portugal's worlds fair of 1998, attracted hundreds of thousands of additional visitors, mostly from Europe.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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