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Posted by portugalpress on February 12, 2018

Promoting Portugal abroad has now seen the government turn its attention to Jewish Americans who may be able to trace their ancestry back to the times of the Portuguese Inquisition.

Consolidating on legislation brought in two years ago (click here), the idea is to (finally) take pride in Portugal’s Jewish heritage.

After centuries in which families sought to hide their ancestry, the ‘amnesty’ brought has suddenly opened the floodgates of interest.

Already over 12,000 foreigners have been in touch with authorities, keen to prove their eligibility for Portuguese nationality.

Around 1800 have already got Portuguese citizenship, which for an American means they can freely circulate Europe without any need for visas.

Now, the Portuguese government wants to go a step further, explains Diário de Notícias.

Promoting the country to American jews comes at a time when visitor numbers from the US have ‘doubled’ since 2015 (going from 400,000 a year to 800,000 in 2017), and when situations in other European countries, like Belgium and France “are scary”, Gabriel Steinhardt, president of the Israeli Community of Lisbon, told DN.

Steinhardt was one of two Jewish religious leaders who accompanied the Portuguese promotional trip, led by secretary of state for tourism Ana Mendes Godinho.

He told journalists: “With the situation in Europe, principally in the north, Portugal is an oasis”.

Steinhardt’s feelings were echoed by Lisbon Rabi Nathan Peres who added that growing anti-semitic feeling in northern Europe has contributed to this latest push by Portuguese authorities.

Making her pitch, Ana Mendes Godinho said: “Jewish tourism has been identified as a very important pillar because we have 29 sites in Portugal, the majority of them in the interior, that have Jewish heritage”.

The ‘promotional tour’ took in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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