Despite some commentators suggesting Spain was suffering from a drop in tourist numbers, 2018 ended up beating the previous year. Throughout the year, 82.8 million tourists came to Spain for their holidays, according to data from the INE. This is a 1.1% increase over 2017 and shows that Spain is still a number one tourist hotspot.
The year ended with 4.4 million visiting in December, 9.7% more than in the same month in 2017. As usual, the UK was the main country of residence for the majority of travellers, with 861,693 visitors. This represents an increase of 6.1% compared to the previous year, and 19.7% of the total tourists.
France and Germany also maintained their positions in the ranking. Over half a million French and German travellers came in December, 0.8% more French, and 10.8% more Germans, when compared to the previous year.
Among other countries, it is worth mentioning significant growth in the number of visitors from the USA (+30.2%), Russia (+17.3%) and Italy (+14.9%).
The Canary Islands were the choice for the most tourists in December, with 28.8% visiting the archipelago. Next was Catalonia with 22.4% of the total, while Andalucía attracted 12.7% of visitors.
The main source of the 1.3 million visitors to the Canaries was the UK, which accounted for 33.6% of the island’s guests. A further 19.8% arrived from Germany.
The number of visitors to Catalonia registered an annual increase of 18.8%, with 20.4% coming from France.
Andalucía attracted 553,783 tourists in December, an annual increase of 8.5%. The UK was the main source accounting for 20.5%, while 13.1% came from France.
In the rest of the communities, the number of tourists increased by an astonishing 84.8% in the Balearic Islands, 10.3% in Madrid and 7.6% in Valencia.
The main countries of residence for 2018’s 82.2 million visitors were the UK, Germany and France. Over the whole year, the number of Brits visiting Spain fell by 1.6% (to stand at 18.5 million), and the number of Germans fell by 4.1% (to 11.4 million). Meanwhile, the number of French visitors increased by 0.7% (to 11.3 million).
Catalonia was the busiest for tourism in 2018 with 23.1% of the total visitors. Next were the Balearic Islands (16.7%), and the Canary Islands (16.6%).
Catalonia was the choice for more than 19.1 million tourists, roughly the same as in 2017. The main countries of residence of visitors to this community were France (with 21.4% of the total) and the aggregate of the rest of the world (12.0%).
The number of tourists who visited the Balearic Islands increased by 0.5% to stand at around 13.9 million. 33.7% came from Germany and 26.7% came from the United Kingdom.
The third largest destination community by number of tourists was the Canary Islands, with almost 13.8 million tourists, an annual decrease of 3.3%. The United Kingdom was the main country of origin (with 36.8% of the total), followed by Germany (20.3%).
Andalucía received 11.7 million tourists in 2018 (1.5% more than in 2017), Valencia received 9.2 million (3.2% more) and Madrid received 7.1 million (6.3% more).
The total spend by international tourists in Spain throughout the year was a massive 89,856 million euros, reflecting an increase of 3.3% when compared to 2017. A welcome boost for Spain’s economy.
The average expenditure per tourists increased 2.2% compared to 2017, reaching 1,086 euros per tourist. Average daily expenditure also increased, rising 7.4% to reach 146 euros.
The average duration of trips for international visitors was 7.4 days, reflecting a small decrease of 0.3 days, compared to 2017’s average.
The most expenditure came from visitors arriving from the UK, who spent 17,976 million euros, an increase of 2.8% over 2017. German travellers spent 12,002 million euros, a fall of 1.9%, while French visitors spent 7,385 million euros, an increase of 4.7%.
The autonomous community which received the bulk of tourists spending was Catalonia with 20,606 million euros, a year-on-year increase of 7.2%. The Canary Islands were next receiving 17,118 million euros, an increase of 2%, while visitors to the Balearic Islands spent 14,826 million euros, 1.6% more than in 2017.