UK biggest supplier of tourists in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
UK tourists to Spain

Spain was visited by 3.15 million international tourists in February this year – mostly from the UK. That is a whopping 1,007.8% more than in the same month of 2021 or eleven times more tourists than then.  

This is according to the data that the Spanish statistical office INE published on Monday. This brings Spain up to 71% of the number of tourists before the pandemic. And although the end of the effects of the pandemic seems in sight, there were still 2.5 million people less. 

Spending up 

Total spending by tourists visiting Spain reached €3.757 billion last February, up 1,060.2% from the 324 million spent in the same month in 2021, according to preliminary data published by the INE. 


With the upturn in February, both international visitor arrivals and spending have now risen for nine consecutive months compared to a year earlier. In the first two months of the year, 5.6 million tourists came to Spain. This is up from 723,000 a year earlier and 8.5 million in that period of 2019, before the pandemic.  

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, pointed out that in the month of February, the trend of recovery in international tourism continued, ‘with a growth of more than 670,000 travellers compared to the previous month’. This shows ‘that Spain is considered a safe destination’. She expects this trend to continue in the run-up to the first milestone of the 2022 holiday calendar, Easter: the Spanish government predicts that in the month of April around 80% of the number of international tourists compared to the period before the pandemic can be expected. 

The top three 

Statistics show that UK tourists have returned to Spain. The main supplying countries in February were the United Kingdom (with 578,568 tourists and an increase of 3,927% compared to the same month in 2021), followed by France (with 514,977 tourists and an increase of 587.2%), and in third place Germany (with 389,741 tourists, an increase of 956.9%).  

The top 3 most popular destinations  

The Canary Islands were the most popular destination in February, with 30.7% of the total, followed by Catalonia (19.6%) and Andalucia (13.5%). A total of 968,004 tourists arrived in the Canary Islands, 1,203.2% more than in February 2021. Most tourists to Spain came from the UK (30.9%) and Germany (16.2%).  

The number of tourists in Catalonia increased by 1,039.7% and reached 619,390 tourists. 31.7% of them came from France and 17.6% from the rest of Europe. In third place is Andalucia, with 425,307 tourists, good for an annual increase of 1,381.2%.  

Transport, reasons and length of stay 

Most tourists arrived in Spain via an airport in February. They numbered 2.6 million, representing an increase of 1,321.9% from a year earlier. There were 83.5% more tourists arriving by train, 475.7% more by car, and 566.9% more by sea.  

Cogesa Expats

Leisure, recreation, and holidays were the main reason for more than 2.6 million tourists coming to Spain in February (+ 1.519%). 213,204 (+ 223.1%) came to Spain for business reasons and 311,566 (+452.3%) persons had other reasons. 

Most tourists stayed between four and seven nights in February. The average duration of trips by international travellers was 8.8 days, 0.8 days less than in the same month of 2021.  

Average spending per tourist increases by 15% to €1,190  

In the first two months of 2022, total spending by foreign visitors increased by 768.3% compared to the same period last year, to €6.783 billion. The average expenditure per tourist was €1,190, an annual increase of 4.7%. This puts them back above the figures before the pandemic when average spending was €1,066.  

Total spending by international tourists visiting Spain in February was €3.757 billion, up 1,060.2% compared to the same month in 2021. Average daily spending increased by 14.9% to €136. Average spending in February was highest in the Canary Islands (with 37.4% of the total), followed by Catalonia (15.7%) and Valencia (12.6%).  

UK tourists biggest spenders in Spain

The British spent the most in February (17.9% of the total), followed by the Germans, (13.1%) and the French (10.3%). Year on year, the spending of UK resident tourists increased by 3,930.0%, that of visitors from Germany by 956.3%, and that of visitors from France by 644.9%.  

Taking into account the cumulative data for the first two months of 2022, the UK remains the country with the highest expenditure (16.5% of the total), followed by Germany (13.1%) and France (9.4%).  

Mode of travel and accommodation 

In February, nearly 2.5 million tourists visited Spain without a package holiday, representing an annual increase of 884.1%. The number of tourists with a package trip increased by 1,988.0% to 666,489 tourists 

The number of tourists booking paid accommodation in February increased by 1,056.3% year-on-year. Within this sector, hotel accommodation increased by 1,030.5% and rental accommodation by 1,957.1%.  

Meanwhile, non-market accommodation increased by 861.6%. The number of tourists staying with family or friends increased by 936.1% and the number of tourists staying in owner-occupied accommodation increased by 859.1% 

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