Spain targets record numbers of international tourists in 2023

by Lorraine Williamson
international tourists records

Spain is preparing for record numbers of international tourists and tourist spending in 2023, as the country received a total of 79.8 million foreign travellers in the first 11 months, 0.8% more than in the same period of 2019. These tourists generated spending of more than €101 billion, already 17% above the pre-pandemic level.

December data conclusive

December data are not yet known. However, Spain would need to receive more than 3.8 million more tourists to surpass the 2019 figure of 83.7 million. That was a record year for tourism and the last before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, which completely paralysed the evolution of the sector, according to data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE).

Keeping in mind the data for December 2022, when 4.1 million tourists arrived in Spain. Before the pandemic there were 4.3 million. Therefore, it seems certain that 2023 will be a historic year for the tourism sector in Spain.

According to Industry and Tourism Minister Jordi Hereu, ‘tourist arrivals and destination spending accelerated, especially in the second half of the year, especially in the months that were historically considered low season, with double-digit growth, which has a very positive impact on the national economy, both in terms of GDP and employment’.

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Fewer travellers from UK and Germany

However, the two main markets, the UK and Germany, are unlikely to surpass pre-pandemic figures. Between January and November, 16.4 million visitors from the UK arrived in Spain, down 4.7% from 2019. The German market, traditionally Spain’s second, was 4% lower than before the pandemic, with a total of 10.2 million travellers this year.

Increase in tourists from US

Notable is the increase in US tourists so far in 2023 on, with more than 3.6 million. These figures surpass the 2019 level by 16.4%. In addition, more travellers also came from other countries, with figures surpassing 2019: Belgium (+7.2%), France (+3.7%), Ireland (+12.3%), the Netherlands (+10.4%), Italy (+6.6%), Portugal (+13.6%) and Switzerland (+10%).

New record in spendings

Tourism spending has so far surpassed pre-pandemic figures in all months of 2023. Consequently, a new record will be set in this area. For major European countries, the figures so far are above those of 2019. Tourists from the UK spend the most, their spending surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 10.5%. This is followed by Germany (+9.6%), France (+26.4%), Italy (+19.4%) and the Nordic countries (+4%).

Also read: Barcelona´s tourist appeal

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