Spain Tourism experiences slow growth, as rivals recover

Tourism sector of Spain saw slow growth in 2018, as the rival countries like Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia recovered during the time. It was revealed by a report by industry lobby group Exceltur

The sector ratcheted up USD 162 billion in sales, 2 per cent more than in 2017, as per a recent report; while that growth was slower than in previous years. In 2017, it had increased by 4.5 per cent and in 2016 by 5 per cent.

On Wednesday, the government had acknowledged that 2018 had been another record year in terms of foreign visitor numbers, which reached 82.6 million.

Tourism is of major importance to Spain, which contributed around 11.8 per cent to its GDP last year, states Exceltur data.

Though visitor numbers rose, there was a drop in overnight stays in classic sun and beach destinations like the Canary Islands or southern Andalucia as competitor countries who had been shattered by attacks and political instability could recover.

Barcelo Resorts (Photo Courtesy:

“Our sun and beach competitors (Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia) in 2018 recovered 12.5 million tourists which is a strong increase in competition” in a sector where many customers look for bargains, Exceltur vice-president Jose Luis Zoreda told reporters.

The group said overnight stays in Spain by traditional visitors from Germany, Britain, Italy or France had dropped.

But a rise in long-distance flight connections had attracted more people from the Middle East, United States, China, Japan and other nations who tend to spend more, helping make up the shortfall to an extent.

Zoreda warned that 2019 is also expected to see a slight deceleration in the sector. He pointed to the continued recovery of competitors as well as “volatility” factors such as Britain’s exit from the European Union, which is currently in limbo.

“We must be well prepared if a hard Brexit happens,” Zoreda said, referring to the doomsday scenario in which Britain exits the EU without a deal negotiated by both sides.

But he said the big challenge was not to attract tourists in their droves but rather those who spend more.