British tourists swap Spain for new hotspots

by Lorraine Williamson
new holiday hotspots

In a twist on a classic travel pattern, the first half of 2023 has seen a shift in the profile of tourists visiting Spain. British tourism, while still the dominant visitor source for Spain, has seen a drop as they visit new hotspots.

Visits from the UK to Spain have reduced by 5.6% below the levels of 2019 in the first five months. This is according to data from the Sectoral Tourism Report 1S 2023 published by CaixaBank Research. The data reveals a deeper story, showcasing a 12.5% dip in interest among British tourists travelling to Spain within the same timeframe.  

Swift to Turkey and Greece – the new hotspots

This decline is partially attributed to the surge in interest rates and the weakening of the British Pound Sterling. Furthermore, CaixaBank Research indicates a growing British inclination towards other destinations such as Portugal, Turkey, and Greece, which in some instances, offer “more competitive prices” for British demand. 

Intriguingly, two of these destinations were among the UK Post Office’s recommendations in their Holiday Money Report. Moreover, they were specifically pointing to the spa town of Marmaris on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast and Portugal’s Algarve. 

The Balearic Islands remain a top pick for international visitors 

Despite this slump in the early months, British visitors haven’t completely turned their backs on Spain. Nearly two million UK tourists were registered in June alone, as per the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Moreover, the Balearic Islands remain a top pick for international visitors, drawing in 24.7% of them. This is closely followed by Catalonia (21.9%) and Andalucia (13.9%). 

Cogesa Expats

The encouraging trend of domestic tourism in June 

As we anticipate the results from the peak travel season, these initial insights offer a preview of summer travel dynamics. Ramón Estalella, General Secretary of the Spanish Hotel Federation (CEHAT), noted in Huffingtonpost the encouraging trend of domestic tourism in June, suggesting it could offset the slowdown from “British and German tourists”. 

Avoiding the scorching heat 

A significant reason for this shift is the intense heatwaves, a product of climate change. As highlighted by the Daily Mail, British travel agencies have reported “a decline in bookings to Spain and Italy to avoid the scorching heat”. Their sources cited a 10% drop from June to November of 2022. 

Related: Spanish weather agency confirms: Clear increase in the number of heatwaves in Spain 

With record-breaking temperatures in countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain not expected to relent as August approaches, “opting for a stay in Northern Europe could be considered a much safer option,” shared Tim Hentschel, CEO of the digital booking platform, HotelPlanner, in a chat with Euronews. 

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