Sharp rise in British tourism to Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
British tourism


MADRID – In a wave of optimism for the travel and tourism sector, the latest data from ForwardKeys, a leading travel analytics firm, indicates a remarkable uptick in British tourism.  

Air travel from the UK is experiencing a 37% increase this year, compared to the same timeframe in 2022. Even more encouragingly, Spain stands as the second most benefitted destination, enjoying a 43% surge in British tourists compared to last year. 

Recovery underway 

Although international travel restrictions have eased considerably, the post-pandemic landscape still presents challenges. Yet, current statistics are promising. Air tickets for mid-term international journeys from the UK are only 6% behind the numbers seen in 2019, a pre-pandemic year. The figures suggest that while the full recovery of the tourism industry isn’t fully realised, it’s certainly in progress. 

Comparing Spain with other popular destinations 

Spain’s allure among British travellers is especially noteworthy when juxtaposed with other preferred autumn travel locales. Greece takes the top spot with a remarkable 62% growth, followed by Portugal with a 41% increase. Meanwhile, Italy sees a modest 15% rise, and domestic travel within the UK grows by 30%. These figures highlight Spain’s enduring popularity as a travel destination, particularly among British tourists. 

Cogesa Expats

Momentum in recovery 

ForwardKeys’ Head of Research, Luis Millán, offers Hosteltur deeper insights into the trends. “In the first quarter, tickets for travel this coming autumn were 11% behind where they were at the same point in 2019. However, by the second quarter, they were only 4% behind,” Millán points out. This narrowing gap underscores an acceleration in the industry’s recovery as we approach the travel dates. 

The role of last-minute bookings 

Millán also touches on another fascinating aspect: last-minute bookings. Nearly a third of all bookings tend to occur in the final 30 days before the vacation period. This observation adds another layer of complexity to the already dynamic travel market, showcasing the variances in booking patterns depending on the holiday periods and target markets. 

Also read: British tourists swap Spain for other destinations 

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