Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Spain More Popular Than Ever

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Spain More Popular Than Ever

Spain is bringing people in with more than just beaches. Brits are being attracted by the cities, mountains, and history of Spain. They’re also spending more time in the less-known areas of the country.

The news has seen a number of stories about the rising popularity of Spain and the increase in Spanish tourism over the past few months.

Statistics from different sources, from travel agencies to the Spanish National Statistics Institute, show that Spanish tourism has been on the rise since the start of the year, with a sharp rise in April. It’s been so significant some people are still struggling to understand how it all happened.

This week even the Financial Times joined in. They took a look at the numbers and asked around to see why this all happened. 

No one will be particularly surprised by the answers but it is a message that bears repeating. Spain is more affordable, safe, accessible, the cost of living in Spain is cheap and has a better climate than a lot of other destinations. There are very few places that offer the all-in-one package that Spain does. Spain has a few extra cards to play this year; chief amongst which is the rising popularity of Spain as a place to take a city-break and a cultural destination.

Before we start crunching all those numbers we should remind you of them. The data from the INE shows that Spain brought in just over 18 million tourists between January and April. This is 13% more than the same period last year and 6 million of those tourists came in April alone.

Four million of those tourists were Brits – around a fifth more than for the same period last year. There were also more tourists from Germany, Scandinavia and America than last year.

The Financial Times spoke with a range of experts who all agreed that Spain is doing so well because their top rivals are no longer safe. Terrorist threats are keeping people out of countries like Turkey and Egypt. Spain, Bulgaria and Greece are seeing most of these visitors instead.

Dörte Nordbeck, the head of travel and logistics at GFK, believes that the spate of terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt have made potential tourists wary of these countries.

Nordbeck says that there was a shift in booking behaviour after the attacks. People are switching to Spain over Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. Some people are also going to Greece and Bulgaria instead.

Turkish tourism has dropped a massive 28% in the past 12 months. Less than 2 million people visited in April. Tunisia and Egypt, popular destinations during the winter, also saw a drop in tourism over the winter season. The Canary Islands in Spain saw a lot of these tourists instead. Tourism has increased 23% in the Canary Islands alone over the past 12 months according to Thomas Cook Group.

The CEO of Thomas Cook, Peter Frankhauser, has said that they have seen people choosing Spain and America instead of Tunisia and Egypt.

The threat of terrorism isn’t the only thing causing a spike in Spanish popularity though. The secretary general of Cehat, the Spanish hotel union, says that Spain is doing well because more people are recommending it and are becoming more interested in Spanish culture, history and language.

British tourists are also expanding their horizons with many going to Barcelona to ski. They are visiting much more than just the usual islands and Mediterranean resorts and are beginning to explore the cities more often like Malaga for example.