84 million: Spain welcomed record number of tourists in 2023

AFP - [email protected]
84 million: Spain welcomed record number of tourists in 2023
Tourists visit Ronda, near Malaga, in Spain's southern region of Andalusia, on June 28, 2023. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Spain received a record number of foreign tourists in 2023, the government said Friday as the country's key tourism sector rebounded strongly from years of disruption caused by the pandemic.


The country welcomed over 84 million visitors last year, a 19 percent jump from 2022, Tourism Minister Jordi Hereu told a news conference, calling 2023 a "very positive year, a record year" for tourism.

The figure was 1.0 percent higher than in 2019 -- the last full year before global travel restrictions imposed to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic grounded the tourism sector -- when Spain saw 83.7 million foreign visitors, a record at the time.


International visitors spent €108 billion ($117.5 billion) in Spain last year, 17 percent higher than in 2019, Hereu said, helping the economy grow faster than most of its large eurozone peers.

And Spain was on track for another jump in tourist arrivals in 2024, he said, with projections suggesting it would receive 23.2 million foreign visitors in the first quarter -- which would be 11 percent higher than in 2023.

Spanish travel industry association Exceltur on Wednesday predicted that tourism revenues in 2024 will for the first time surpass €200 billion, up from €187 billion last year.

It said the "perceived insecurity" in rival markets in the eastern Mediterranean such as Egypt, resulting from the Israel-Hamas war, should help drive up foreign visitors to Spain in winter.

Spain is the world's second-most visited country after France and tourism is crucial for the domestic economy, making up 12.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2023, Exceltur figures show.

International travel restrictions due to the pandemic brought Spain's vital tourism sector to its knees in 2020.

The industry began a gradual recovery in 2021, pausing briefly when the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant led to a new round of travel restrictions.


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