Tourists prefer the cool north of Spain to the hot south

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the cool north of Spain

Andalucia, with its pleasant climate, rich gastronomy and cultural offer, has always been a favourite destination for foreign tourists during the summer period. However, this trend is changing.

As it becomes increasingly hotter in the summer months due to climate change, both national and foreign tourists are now choosing new destinations in Northern Spain. These were much less known until recently.

The Mediterranean Sea is largely replaced by the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea. Traditional summer destinations for international tourism, such as the coasts of Andalucia, Murcia and the Valencian Community, have lost their top places in the growth rankings to Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria. In August alone, these three autonomous communities in the north recorded 435,500 visitors. That is an increase of 47% compared to 2022.

Growth of over 25% for the Cantabrian coastline

According to data from the tourism organisation Exceltur, the number of tourists on the Cantabrian coastline has grown by more than 25% on average this summer. The cooler climate, the distance from the heatwaves that hit the south of the peninsula and the green environment made them the favourite destination of last summer.

Biggest growth for the Basque Country

More than 37 million tourists visited Spain this summer. That is an increase of 12.48% compared to the same period in 2022. The Basque Country saw the largest growth in visitor numbers compared to the summer of 2019 (the last before the pandemic), with an increase of 27.4%. Galicia follows with an increase of 27%, and Asturias with 26%. Cantabria saw an increase of 15.6% and is now one of the preferred destinations.

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The classic destinations remain popular

Despite the increase in visitors to the north of the peninsula, classic destinations remain successful. These include the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Catalonia, the Valencian Community and Andalucia. Andalucia had a significant growth in the number of foreign tourists between June and September. It recorded 16.11% more than in the same period of 2022. The largest increase, according to INE data, was recorded in the Community of Madrid with 22.65% . The Balearic Islands improved by 7.06% and the Canary Islands by 5.45%.

Decline in growth rate for Andalucia

The decline in the growth rate in foreign visitors to Andalucia is a concern for the community, whose economy is highly dependent on the tourism sector. In 2022 alone, the tourism industry generated €22.5 billion. Rising temperatures are forcing the south of Spain to rethink their tourism model. Industry experts emphasise the importance of spreading tourism throughout the year rather than just the summer months. Because this year it was possible to lie on the beach until well into November with maximum temperatures of up to 25ºC (and even occasionally up to 36ºC) and relatively little rain.

August was the hottest ever recorded in Spain. The Spanish weather service Aemet issued no fewer than 63 severe heat warnings in traditional destinations such as Málaga, Marbella and Torremolinos, with temperatures above 39ºC. Six extreme heat warnings were also issued, with coastal temperatures above 42ºC.

Climate change ‘favourable’ for Northern Spain

Climate change has a negative effect on Andalucia. However, it is beneficial for the northern part of the peninsula from a tourism point of view. This is being transformed from a predominantly rainy and cool landscape into an area where there is more beach weather, less rain and relatively little mass tourism. The gastronomy is excellent, as is the real estate offering. The favourable prices for houses in areas such as Asturias and Galicia are attracting a new consumer profile.

Also read: Asturias voted the most popular region in Spain

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