The Spanish tourism sector is quickly returning to its pre-pandemic peak, with just over 7.7 million international air travellers visiting the country in May 2022 alone. That figure represents 87% of the number of tourists who arrived in Spain in May 2019: the last comparable pre-covid figure.
This figure is two percentage points higher than the number of travellers who arrived by air into Spain in April 2022, and clearly demonstrates that tourism figures are rapidly returning to their pre-pandemic highs.
These figures are provided by the Spanish tourism board Turespana and airport operator Aena, and they are great news for anyone working within, or otherwise reliant upon, the Spanish tourism sector.
So, what do they mean in real terms? Here’s everything you need to know:
Great News for the Spanish Economy
The return of significant numbers of international tourists, and the money they spend, it great news for the Spanish economy. The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Maria Reyes Maroto said in a statement that: “Our islands are approaching pre-pandemic figures, with recovery percentages of over 95 per cent which are favoured by the return of one of our main markets, the British. Undoubtedly, one of the elements that, unlike what happened in 2021, is allowing a solid reactivation of the international tourists that our country receives.”
Whilst it is important to note that this figure only looks at air travellers (so it includes Spanish citizens who may be returning home from their own vacations) it is believed that the vast majority of these 7.7 million arrivals are tourists.
Where are Tourists Returning to?
Visitor numbers are up across Spain, but the region with the highest number of visitors is the Balearic islands. This region saw a total of 1,675,941 passengers arriving in May 2022. This was followed by Madrid with 1,604,603 passengers and Catalonia with 1,535,533 passengers.
In terms of recovery of the number of visitors, the Canary Island topped the scale. In May they saw 98.6% of their pre-pandemic level of visitors in the country. This was closely followed by the Balearic Islands who saw a 95.5% level of recovery.
Increased Numbers of Visitors From the UK
Much of the Spanish recovery of tourism is being driven by visitors from the UK. A total of 1,979,969 travellers from the UK were welcomed at the Spanish airports, representing an improvement of this market of 83.6%, compared to 2019 figures. British visitors are mainly visiting the Balearic Islands and they currently represent one in four of all visitors to Spain. In addition to these British visitors:
- 1,216,275 passengers visited Spain from Germany
- 644,663 passengers visited Spain from Italy
- 637,943 passengers visited Spain from France
What is interesting is that much of the traffic from the UK is being driven by the rise of low cost airlines with 77.6% of travellers from the United Kingdom arriving in Spain via a low-cost airline. Eight out of ten travellers from Italy also chose to fly with a low-cost operator. Across all nations, traditional airlines are still popular, with 50.7% of airline arrivals falling into the ‘traditional’ category and 49.3% classed as low-cost airlines. It is clear, then, that travellers are keen to get to Spain by whatever means is available to them!
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