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Spain Overtakes America as Second Most Popular Tourist Destination

Posted on 17 January 2018

Despite a series of terrorist attacks and political uncertainty in its Catalonia region, Spain broke international visitor records and kept its tourism industry performing on full steam in 2017.

Reuters, the international news agency reports that for the fifth consecutive year, the Spanish tourism board welcomed more international visitors than ever before. Experts suggest the successful performance could partly stem from a boycott of other countries such as Egypt, whose tourism industry is drastically suffering.

Year on year, international tourists rose 8.9% to 82 million people, making it the second most visited country. France has historically always taken first place while Spain’s excellent performance pushed America down a notch to third position.

Top Visiting Nationalities and Regions

Spanish tourism

Historically, Brits have always favoured Spain and 2017 continued this trend with 18 million Brits descending on its shores, making it the number one nationality to visit the country. Closely followed by 11.4 million Germans and just over 10 million French, other nationalities favouring Spain also included the Italians and people from the Nordic countries.

One of the most surprising rises was a 33% increase in American visitors. Swiss visitors rose by 22% while the increase in Russians also contributed by 14%. – Valuvillas

Despite two devasting attacks and a political mess that played out in front of the world, Catalonia stayed the top visited the region in Spain, with Barcelona rebounding quickly after scenes of mass protest were broadcasted around the world. The Canarias and Balearics islands performed well, and the Andalusia region also ranked in the top list of Spanish destinations preferred by tourists.

Tourism and the Spanish Economy

Like many other countries, Spain relies heavily on tourism to keep its economy going, with the industry currently accounting for 11% of activity. This year, also saw tourists spending more money than ever before, an increase of 12.4% from 2016.

It is not only hotels, and touristic establishments benefitting from the tourism success either since Spanish supermarkets report that during high season, business is three times busier. This is possibly a contribution from tourists renting home accommodation using websites like Airbnb. This niche of tourism has grown in popularity over the years as traveller trends changed to locally and culturally orientated themes.

However, supermarkets in touristic areas also make a point of stocking foreign food and drink items from the countries of top visiting nationalities suggesting that despite our urge to learn more about cultures, we like our home comforts. Luxury items are also popular with the Chinese who account for 28% of the tourism spend.

Spanish Tourism Predictions for 2018

Despite the roaring success of the past 5 years, industry insiders are exercising caution as travel trends for 2018 predict a return of tourists to countries like Turkey, who have embarked on a massive campaign to show international tourists that the country is safe to visit.

The Chinese, who account for a significant amount of the spend in Spain, also declared 2018 to be the year of Turkey. Still, Spanish tourism associations predict growth of roughly 3% in 2018 as long as no major events occur.

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