Spain leads the world in tourism. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Spain is placed first in 2015. Since 2017, Spain has established a new record in the number of visitors with more than 83 milliontourists arriving in Spain every year. It is recognized as the second most visited country in the world, after France.

Spain is so successful in the tourism industry because of its rich cultural and natural attractions. Its exceptional infrastructures, the quality of its transportation, and hoteldensity also make the country more desirable to visit and travel to.

Here we are going to mention some of the top trends and statistics in Spain’s tourism industry.

Covid-19 and Tourism Industry

Although, Spain has experienced other crises and situations of global uncertainty in the past such as the financial crisis, the Icelandic volcano, etc. But in the case of COVID-19 and its global expansion, there could be seen a dramatic rise in travel cancellations, and a steep and increasing decline in short- and medium-term demand for tourism services, and it has affected the entire value chain of the Spanish tourist industry. It is expected and forecasted that the full recovery from this pandemic crisis could takeyears, however, the industry has begun a gradual recovery from 2021.

Pre- and Post-Pandemic Trends and Statistics

  1. Tourism accounted for 12% of Spain’seconomybefore the pandemic.
  2. Now, Spain no longer has any COVID-19 entry requirements for anyone arriving into the country from the EU or Schengen area.
  3. Holidaymakers from the UK, and other countries outside the EU or Schengen area, need to show proof of full vaccination, proof of recovery, or a negative antigen test result (taken the 24 hours before departure) or a negative PCR test (taken in the 72 hours before departure). 
  4. Health screening is in place at all Spanish airports and ports to ensure passengers comply with these rules.
  5. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in the first quarter of 2021, Spain received 4 million tourists, and it was more than eight times as many as in the same time in 2020.
  6. Foreign tourists spent 5.07 billion euros ($5.37 billion) while on holiday in the country in March 2021, up from a mere 544 million euros a year earlier.
  7. Spain closed the first quarter of 2021 with good data on arrivals and tourist spending, with the hope that the trend will intensify in the summer period.
  8. The number of tourists flocking to Spain in March 2022 was still 1.6 million short of the number who arrived in March 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  9. The amount spent in March 2019 was 6.03 billion euros.

Contribution of Tourism to Spain’s Economy

  1. Tourism is one of the cornerstones of the Spanish economy and an outstanding driver of economic and social development.
  2. In 2017 it accounted for 11.8% of GDP and in 2018 sustained 13.5% of employment (or 2.6 million direct jobs).
  3. Tourism continues to contribute substantially to offset the country’s trade deficit with tourism receipts amounting to EUR 62.5 billion, in 2018 – a growth of 3.6% compared with 2017.
  4. In 2018, tourist arrivals reached 82.8 million (+1.1% compared to 2017).
  5. In 2018, tourism generatedEUR 89.8 billion in international receipts(+3.3% compared to 2017).
  6. Travel exports represented 52.3% of total service exports in 2018.
  7. The top three inbound markets for Spain are the United Kingdom (22.4% of tourist arrivals), Germany (13.8%), and France (13.6%).
  8. There has been an increase in long-haul inbound travel from markets such as the United States, China, and South Korea, largely due to improvements in air connectivity and growth in the global economy.
  9. In 2018, Spain recorded a total of 425.4 million domestic trips.
  10. Of these domestic tourists, 139.9 million were overnight(+1.1% compared to 2017) and 285.5 million were day visitors (+1.9% from 2017).
  11. Spain recorded a total of 36 million tourists in 2020.
  12. In 2020, Spain ranked 8th in the world in absolute terms.
  13. With 0.77 tourists per resident, Spain ranked 55th in the world. In Southern Europe, it ranked 6th.
  14. Spain generated around 81.25 billion US dollars in the tourism sector alone.
  15. Spain’s Tourism corresponds for 6.3% of its GDP and approximately 40% of all international tourism receipts in Southern Europe.

Tourism Industry Insight

  1. Spain has begun to prepare a new Strategy for Sustainable Tourism for 2030.
  2. The Strategy of Sustainable Tourism aims to transform Spanish tourism into a model of both sustained and sustainable growth to maintain the country’s leading position in tourism.
  3. This strategy also aims to protect the assets on which the sector depends.
  4. The Strategy will contribute to the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals and meet both medium and long-term challenges of sustainable tourism in terms of socio-economic, environmental, and territorial impacts.
  5. Digitalization and modernization of all the various elements of the sector is a high priority and aim to improve the position of Spain as a leading global tourism destination.
  6. Spain is seeking new mechanisms to boost destination innovation through the deployment of information and communication technologies to create different and highly competitive services.
  7. Saudi Arabia and Spain have agreed to work together to identify a number of fields in which they can work together to revitalize the tourism sector after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Tourist-related Trends

  1. July is the most popularmonth for travel as the vast majority of searches(57.2%) are for trips arriving in July
  2. Spaniards represent 22.6% of travellers, but international travellers come mainly from Brazil (22.6%), Portugal (20.4%), the UK (10.0%), Germany (9.0%), and Italy (6.1%). 
  3. On average, 72% search for a flight for a single person; 20% are couples, and 8% are families.
  4. Travellers from Portugal have the highest rate of searches for singles (81%), while Brazilians search very little for family trips.
  5. Travellers prefer to leave on Fridays or Mondays, and the most popular dates are the first weekends in July.
  6. The trend of flight searches to Spain by the British recorded a considerable peak on 25 June 2021, when the Balearic Islands became part of the UK’s Green List of COVID destinations. 
  7. Together with Malta, the Spanish archipelago is the only Mediterranean destination on the Green List. 
  8. British demand is concentrating mainly on the Balearic Islands.
  9. 62% of the flightssearched in the last month were to the archipelago, with the remainder equally distributed across the rest of the country.
  10. In 2020, La Sagrada Familia became the most visited spot by travellers in Spain.
  11. To add an aesthetic touch to the tour, visitors visit the world-famous Plaza de Cibeles fountain.
  12. For all mountain lovers, both southern and northern Spain offers the majestic sites of Sierra Nevada and the Asturias, Picos De Europa, respectively.
  13. Spain boasts the world’s third-largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites.
  14. Visiting Spain in September or October is ideal and recommended when the weather is cooler.
  15. Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe in terms of crime levels
  16. Some of the best beaches of Spain include San Sebastian, Ibiza, Benidorm, and Mallorca where visitors want to dive into the water, spend some time on a boat or try some adventure sports.
  17. Spain isn’t the mostEnglish-friendly country in Europe but tourists can probably find people speaking English easily, particularly closer to touristy areas.
  18. Barcelona leads as Spain’s most visited destination. Barcelona is a tourist hotspot that blends splendid architecture, a leading art scene, and a boundless culture.
  19. Andalusia has so much to offer, from the unreal Alhambra Palaces in Granada and the Cathedral/Mosque of Cordoba to the Plaza de España in Seville.
  20. Some of the best places to visit in Spain are relatively small cities like, Leon, Burgos, Segovia, Cordoba, Salamanca, Caceres, Ávila, and the list goes on.
  21. Spain is one of the least expensive countries in western Europe. A little more expensive than Portugal, but less thanFrance, Germany and so on.
  22. Spain is an EU member and integrates the Schengen area, which means If visitors are from a Schengen country, they just need their ID Card and can enjoy free movement within Spain.