Spain's tourism growth seems unstoppable
The September increase was driven mainly by arrivals from the UK which, despite Brexit, grew by 12.8% and exceeded 2 million (25.4% of the total). The UK has also been the main source market so far this year, with 14.4 million tourists, up 13%, followed by France with 9.3 million, up 9.6%, and Germany with 8.9 million, up 4.3%.
The largest annual tourism growth of 20.8% regarded visitors Ireland which sent 1.5 million people to Spain. The increase of 6.9% of the US market (1.6 million tourists), and the positive results for Russia, which added 842,646 tourists, 1.2% more than a year ago, are also significant.
Between January and September, all the major source markets yielded positive numbers, while last month Belgium and Switzerland recorded declines of 6.2% and 6.3% respectively.
In the total for the first nine months of 2016, the autonomous communities welcoming most international tourists were Catalonia, with almost 14.5 million (24% of the total) and the tourism growth of 4.4%; the Balearic Islands with 11.5 million (19.1% of the total), up 10.6% and the Canary Islands, with 9.6 million (15.9% of total), up 13.2%. The biggest increase (16%) occurred in Valencia which received 6.3 million international tourists between January and September, while Andalusia recorded the same increase as the Canary Islands (13.2%), with 8.5 million passengers. Madrid had an increase of 13.1% and 4.3 million visitors.
Most tourists opted for private market accommodation, which was used by 47.7 million visitors (an increase of 11.4%), with 38.2 million (11%) staying in hotels and 6.7 million (4.9% more) in rental housing. There was also a 5.4% growth in the use of non-market accommodation, which was the preferred choice of 12.7 million tourists. 7.5 million (12.4%) of these stayed in the homes of relatives or friends, and almost 4 million (13.3% more) in privately-owned accommodation.
Up to September most tourists stayed for four to seven nights, and this was the choice of about 28 million of them (11.4%). The main reason for travel to Spain was leisure and vacation for nearly 52 million tourists, up 9%, while the 3.4 million who came for businesses represented a decline of 4.8%, following a 28.2% year-on-year decrease in September.
Air transportation was still the main access route to Spain for foreign tourists, and it was chosen by 48.1 million of them (11.2%), followed by land transportation, by which 10.7 million visitors (5.7% more) entered the country. Rail and sea transportation was used by 293,865 travelers (up 4.7%), and 1.3 million travelers (up 8.7%) respectively.
Most tourists, almost 42 million (up 7.7%), who came to Spain up to September, did not use a tour package, although the largest increase (16% representing 18.4 million), was recorded for the number of bookings of organized tours.