Tourism continues to grow: this summer will be the busiest peak season ever in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
tourism in Spain

Tourism in Spain is struggling with two contradictory developments. First of all, the unprecedented growth, but on the other hand, there are also protests in more and more areas against the impact of tourism. For example, in the housing market.

The number of foreign travellers increased by 17.8% and reached an all-time high of 85.3 million at the end of 2023. Expenses increased by 24.7%, to more than €108 billion. The first quarter of 2024 has also broken records again. The forecasts of travel agencies and data analytics consultancies are irrevocably leading to the busiest peak season in history.

Parallel to this trial, thousands of Canary Islanders protested at the end of April against the proliferation of apartments for tourists and overcrowding in many destinations. They demanded measures for residents to regain access to housing. A movement of rejection of tourists, which was supported by some large hotel entrepreneurs. They denounce the public services for their inaction in the face of the illegal offer of tourist apartments. In addition, they warn of the risks that this year will end with almost 100 million foreign visitors. The combination of both factors has sown the seeds of the rejection of an activity that generates 12% of GDP and employment in Spain.

Historic high season

However, the market ignores these opposing moves and continues to rise unabated. The data from the Destinia travel agency, to which the CincoDías newspaper has had exclusive access, assume a historic high season. “For trips to Spain, we have 54% more bookings than in the same period in 2023 for the summer months, with a growth of 77% for domestic tourism and 23% for foreign tourists,” highlights a company report.

The markets of origin that will grow the most in the high season are Portugal, with an annual increase of 70%, Germany (48%) and Italy (36%). On the other hand, bookings from the UK are down 15%. A spokeswoman for the company points out that not all bookings will be completed, something that already happened last year, so the actual growth will be set at a rate closer to 30% or 20%.

Cogesa Expats

More flight searches

A similar trend to bookings follows in searches for travel to Spain. “In the days before and after the protests in the Canary Islands that called for a change in the economic model of the islands, tourist mentions of the Canary Islands tripled. A week later, they stabilised again at the usual average,” emphasises Carlos Cendra, partner and Director of Marketing and Communications at Mabrian, a company specialising in the analysis of tourist data. None of the indicators studied by the company indicate a slowdown or a loss of attractiveness of Spain as a tourist destination in the coming months.

Also read: Mallorca and the fight against over tourism

Rising prices

Between January and March, the average price of a hotel room in Spain was €135, which was the historical maximum for that period and a growth of 12% compared to the same period in 2023.

In terms of airline tickets, there has been an increase of around 26% in tickets sold for travel between June 1 and September 15, 2024 from the five largest issuing markets to Spain. This increase is mainly driven by low-cost airlines, which account for two-thirds of the operational capacity to Spain.


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