Tourism For Members

Tourism in Spain bounces back to near pre-pandemic levels

The Local (
The Local ([email protected]) • 6 Jan, 2023 Updated Fri 6 Jan 2023 09:21 CEST
image alt text
Tourists flocked back to Spain in 2022 but not quite at the levels of 2019, the last year of full travel before the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Pixabay.

The Spanish tourism sector enjoyed a strong year over the last 12 months but didn't quite bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.


Tourists flocked back to Spain in 2022 but not quite at the levels of 2019, the last year of full travel before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The numbers

Taking advantage of the lifting of travel restrictions, Spain welcomed 66.4 million foreign tourists in the first eleven months of 2022, a huge (138.9 percent) increase on 2021 but still 15 percent less than during the same period in 2019.


The tourists that came spent less overall, too, likely a reflection of stifled spending due to inflationary pressures weighing down on people's purchasing power. The prices of flights and hotel rooms skyrocketed in 2022, particularly during the summer season as the hospitality and aviation sectors tried to recoup some of their pandemic losses.

READ ALSO: How Wales fans swapped Qatar for Tenerife to enjoy a cheap and boozy World Cup

Interestingly, the price increases put the average spend per tourist at €1,241, a significant 18 increase on the 2019 figure, but the duration of tourist stays in Spain fell from 8.5 days in 2019 to 7.5 days in 2022.

The total expenditure of all foreign tourists in Spain in 2022 up to November was €82.8 billion, a slight 6.2 decrease on the pre-pandemic figure. It is expected that by the time December's data has been included, that 2022 total will be around €87.1 billion in total tourist spend.

Spain's Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto told the Spanish press that "the containment of inflation in these last months of the year, together with the government's measures to tackle the impact of the war in Ukraine, are facilitating the arrival of tourists in our country, which makes us optimistic for the year 2023."

Overall, in 2022 Spain recovered 85 percent of its pre-pandemic tourism up to November, and 93.8 percent of its total spend, according to surveys of tourist movement at the borders (by Frontur) and tourist spending (by Egatur) published this week by the Spain's National Institute of Statistics (INE). 

Brits leading the pack

Despite Brexit, Britain is still sending a huge number of tourists to Spain. In fact, in 2022 it was the leading nation: between January and November, 14.4 million British tourists arrived in Spain, 270 percent more than in 2021, though still someway off the 17 million figure recorded in 2019. 

828,680 British tourists visited Spain in November alone.

Overall, the French and Germans were the next biggest groups arriving in Spain, with 9.4 million and 9.3 million travellers up to November respectively.

The British also led tourist spending, splashing out on 16.8 percent of the total tourist spend for the year.


Regional differences

In the first 11 months of 2022, the regions that welcomed the most tourists were Catalonia (with almost 14 million), the Balearic Islands (with almost 13.1 million) and the Canary Islands (with more than 11.1 million).

These three regions unsurprisingly also had the highest proportions of tourist spend for the year up to November, with the Canary Islands taking 19.3 percent of the total, followed by Catalonia, on 19 percent, and the Balearic Islands with 18.4 percent.

Tourism traditionally makes up a significant chunk of the Spanish economy, representing 12.3 percent of Spain's total GDP and 12.7 percent of employment in 2020.



The Local ([email protected]) 2023/01/06 09:21

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also