Spain can expect a record amount of 90 million tourists this year

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After a record-breaking year in 2023 with 85 million arrivals, Spain remains a highly attractive destination for travellers worldwide, significantly boosting the Spanish economy. This year, Spain is expected to welcome a record number of 90 million tourists.

According to a report by CaixaBank Research, the country’s tourism GDP is projected to grow by 5% in real terms, thanks to a 5.5% increase in international tourism.

Factors driving growth

Researchers attribute the rise in tourist arrivals to several key factors:

  • Recovery of purchasing power: The improvement in the purchasing power of European households amidst decreasing inflation.
  • Economic recovery in Europe: The overall economic rebound across Europe.
  • Perception of safety: A greater perception of safety in Spain compared to geopolitical instability in other Mediterranean destinations.

Challenges and potential slowdown

Despite the optimistic outlook, the report warns of potential slowdowns in the sector due to various factors:

  • Recovery of competing destinations: Other tourist destinations regaining their footing.
  • Impact of the 2024 Paris Olympics: The Olympics are expected to draw a significant number of tourists, potentially diverting them from Spain.
  • Moderate growth in domestic tourism: Domestic tourism growth is expected to be modest, at just 0.8%.

Also read: This is how tourism in Spain is changing

Economic impact and sustainability

In 2023, the real tourism GDP grew by 7.6%, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and representing 12.6% of Spain’s GDP. This recovery underscores the need for better management of tourist flows to ensure sustainable growth. Proposed measures include:

  • Reducing over-tourism impacts: Addressing the negative consequences of over-tourism on local populations, such as housing market pressures and strains on public services.
  • Investing in adaptation and decarbonisation: Measures to tackle climate change and promote sustainability.

Tourist tax and rental regulations

To mitigate the adverse effects of tourism, some Spanish regions, including Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, have implemented a tourist tax. Additionally, there is a push to regulate holiday rentals in high-demand areas, which could help redirect tourists to hotels.

Climate change as a challenge

Climate change poses a significant risk to Spain’s tourism sector. According to CaixaBank Research, heatwaves negatively affect tourists’ likelihood of returning to the country. Internal data shows a decline in return visits from 14% to 12.1%, with more pronounced drops among tourists from the UK and the US. In contrast, French and Portuguese tourists show greater resilience to heatwaves.

Spain’s ability to attract a record number of tourists this year highlights its enduring appeal, but also underscores the need for strategic management to address the challenges of sustainability and climate change.

Also read: How climate change can affect tourism in Spain

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