Group of tourists looking at the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona. Photo credits: EFE/Quique García.

River cruise ships in the river Guadalquivir, docked by the Torre del Oro and the Teatro de la Maestranza, in Seville. Photo credits: EFE/José Manuel Vidal.

Spanish travel industry: More inbound tourist visits and higher spending

During the first seven months of 2018, 47.1 million international visitors came to Spain, 0.3% more than in the same period last year. Moreover, they spent 50,691 million euro, 3% more.

On World Tourism Day, 27 September, we are celebrating that Spain is the second most visited country in the world. Foreign tourists travel to our country to enjoy our cultural, artistic and natural heritage, our food, and our quality infrastructure and entertainment options. Whereas from January to September last year, 46.9 million international visitors came to our country, this year they totalled 47.1 million, that is 0.3% more in the first nine months.

Furthermore, tourists increased their spending in accommodation, shopping, restaurants and bars to 50,691 million euro, a 3% rise as compared to the same period last year.

From January to September 2018, the average individual spending was 1076 euro, (+2.7% as compared to 2017 with 1048 euro). The average daily spending rose from 139 to 147 euro, 5.5% more. As to the average stay, it was 7.3 days. All these figures were taken from the monthly surveys conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INE) to assess the Spanish tourism industry performance: Tourist Movement on Borders Survey (FRONTUR) and Tourist Expenditure Survey (EGATUR).

High-quality tourism

According to these surveys, inbound tourism has gone back to normal after several years of exceptional growth. On the other hand, the average spending has increased. This is the result of the work done by the Government and agencies like Tourspain or Exceltur to attract high-end tourists.

In this respect, the number of sun-and-sea tourists went down as a result of the more attractive prices offered by competing destinations like Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey, chosen by around 10 million tourists a month.

However, the gradual diversification in the Spanish travel industry attracted more visitors from other segments: individual tourism, travellers with an interest in culture or food, members of the LGBT community, etc. Spain offers quality products and services in all these segments.

Leading source travel markets

By number of visitors, the UK was the main inbound travel market to Spain, with more than 10.6 million tourists who spent 10,065 million euro (+1.1%) in the January-September period. Their average spending was 947 euro for the whole trip (+4%) and 125 euro a day (+4.3%).

Germany ranked second, with nearly 6.5 million visitors who spent 6640 million euro. German visitors spent 1029 euro on average (+2.6%), and their average daily spending was 133 euro (+7.45%).

France followed Germany, with 6.2 million visitors and a spending of 3907 million euro (+2.9%). The average spending for French visitors was 630 euro per trip (+4.7%) and 95 euro a day (+4.44%).

As to Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), their inbound visitors to Spain totalled 3.57 million (+2.6%). They spent more than any other visitors: 4360 million euro (+4.45%). Their average spending was the highest: 1221 euro (+1.8%), while the average daily spending was 140 euro (+2.15%).

Most visited tourist destinations

With over 11 million visitors, Catalonia was the favourite destination in Spain in the first seven months of the year. The Canary Islands, with 7.9 million visitors, and the Balearic Islands, with 7.8 million, came behind Catalonia.

In Catalonia, visitors spent 7.14% more, totalling 11,832 million euro. The average spending was 1075 euro, with 190 euro spent a day on average. In the Canary Islands, tourist spending increased by 2.55%, with a total of 9641 million euro. On average, visitors spent 1218 euro per stay and 144 euro per day.

Andalusia was also a popular destination, especially with visitors from the UK (27.3% of total visitors) and Scandinavia (14.3%). From January to July, Andalusia welcomed 6.64 million visitors (+1.1%), who spent 7310 million euro (+1%). Their average spending was 1101 euros per stay and 118 euro per day.