MADRID | Tourism in Spain has overcome the crisis and is experiencing its fourth best year. The sector is expected to close with 57 million foreign tourists and an 8% increase in spending. Its revenues now exceed the €1.5bn obtained in 2010: 14% more than in 2007 and 2008.
Secretary general of domestic trade and tourism, Joan Mesquida, said in an interview with Europe Press:
“We are quite far from the almost 59 million tourists received in 2007, which was a record year, but with 14% more income if with fewer payments.”
Spain has benefited from the diversion of tourists from conflict zones and will receive three million more tourists than in 2010, but it will not recover the rate of 2007 because
“there also are tourists lent to other euro zone countries. The uncertainty perceived by consumers and the situation in Greece has a negative effect on consumption and projects a shadow on the horizon.”
However, the economic recovery in the traditional markets that bring tourism to Spain (UK, Germany, France and Italy) and the promotion and success in sports like the World Cup have boosted tourism, even though it is difficult to measure exactly to what extent.
The unemployment rate in the tourism sector stands at 15%, five points below the national average (21.5%), because of the high seasonal component, since 85% of tourists visiting Spain go to the coastal areas. For this reason, Mr Mesquida called for the diversification of products.
“must not neglect its mature markets such as the United Kingdom, which contributes 25% of international tourism, but it should also look into emerging markets like China, India, Brazil and Russia.”
Russia this year will exceed one million tourists, between 40% and 50% more, with an spending that doubles the average visitor; and, Brazil will emit 60% more visitors. As for China, which has taken from Spain the third place in international arrivals, it will be a
“very important market in the medium term. The Chinese will travel en masse to Europe and Spain will be a reference when the explosion of tourism from these countries occurs in four or five years.”
However, Mr Mesquida defended the global leadership of Spain, which will host the World Tourism Day in 2012 as the second country with the highest income from tourism, third in the organization of congresses behind the US and Germany. Spain also is among the ten powers in competitiveness.