The foreign holidaymakers in Spain replacing German and British tourists

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The foreign holidaymakers in Spain replacing German and British tourists
Tourists take pictures inside the Expiatory Church of the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona on September 19th 2023. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

Spain's tourism industry is experiencing a post-pandemic boom despite fewer Russians, Brits and Germans coming, partly thanks to the growing number of other foreign holidaymakers visiting the country.


Though the Spanish tourism sector has all but completed its post-pandemic recovery, the profiles of the types of tourists arriving have begun to change.

Tourist arrival numbers have now practically equalled those recorded in the summer of 2019 and total spending figures, boosted by inflation, have hit record highs.

This is mainly due to a drop off in visits from two groups: Russians affected by visa restrictions amid the war in Ukraine, and the old traditional tourist base of the British and Germans being limited by economic uncertainty.

READ ALSO: Spain's tourism revenue forecast to hit record in 2023

Around half a million Russians visited Spain in the summer of 2019, largely concentrated on the Mediterranean coast, but following harsh visa restrictions while the war in Ukraine continues, this number has effectively been reduced to zero.

In 2019 between June and August, 6.4 million tourists arrived from the UK. In the same period in 2023 that number was 6.05 million, a drop off of 368,986 people (a 6 percent fall). 3.67 million German tourists arrived in Spain between June and August 2019, a figure that had fallen by 6 percent to 3.44 million for the same period by 2023.


Economic malaise affecting both countries has largely been blamed for the decline in tourism numbers. High inflation and stagnation mean that many tourists who might usually take a trip to Spain have instead stayed at home. In the case of the UK, the prolonged downward economic drag on Brexit must also play a role.

"The fall in the British and German markets can be dangerous if it continues. We will have to see if we are going to be able to find other markets that replace these two and how the economic situation evolves," Tolo Deyà, from Faculty of Tourism of the University of the Balearic Islands, told Spanish outlet 20 Minutos.

However, Deyà points out that the season has been very good in general for Spain. "We have met expectations even at the risk of having raised prices a lot," he adds.

READ ALSO: Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Despite that, the British and German markets remain two of the main sources of income for the Spanish tourism sector, particularly in the summer season. Between them they spent €11.6 billion this summer, an amount that represents 31 percent of all spending made by foreign visitors.


Changing profile

However, the sector has managed to make up for the drop from its conventional tourism markets with more than 1.5 million additional tourists of other nationalities, which in the process are diversifying the industry and reducing dependence.

The increase in Portuguese tourism in particular is striking, with 189,000 more visitors than in 2019.

The increase in American arrivals also stands out, with 172,000 more in 2023 than four years ago. In this case, the role played by celebrities and TV shows that have become popular abroad on streaming platforms have contributed to boosting tourism from this country.

Around 164,000 more Italian tourists have also arrived in Spain in 2023 than in 2019. The arrival of Mexicans too has increased tourists by 121,000 people, Israelis by 112,000 and Canadians by 74,000 people.


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Bernard 2023/10/11 09:13
In the case of the UK, the prolonged downward economic drag on Brexit must also play a role. Readers should note that this is a wholly inaccurate statement.

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