That figure was an 11% increase on last year, and continued a trend whereby 2016 looks set to smash all previous tourism records – with British holidaymakers spearheading the charge…
The regions of Spain with the largest increase were Barcelona, the Costa del Sol and the islands of the Balearics and Canaries. Majorca is already 100% fully booked out through to the end of September, the data shows.
Final tourism figures for August have yet to be gathered, but according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the signs are strong that Spain will see a 25% increase in visitors for the month. At the same time, Turkey’s tourism numbers have fallen 30%, while they are down 60% in Egypt and close to non-existent in Tunisia, where more than 30 Brits were gunned down on a beach in 2015.
“Between 12-15% of the tourists coming to Spain wouldn’t have come were it not that those destinations that compete directly with Spain for sun and beaches are closeddue to tragic events,” said the president of the Spanish travel agents and tour operators association, Rafael Gallego.
More tourists are always welcome, of course, but there must be a saturation point, and some Spaniards worry that 2016 could come to represent a peak year for the country…unless new accommodation (apartments, hotels) units are built.
Spain’s construction industry has already begun to respond, with house building at its highest level for more than five years, while foreign developers are eyeing real estate and hotel opportunities across the country’s more popular regions.
At the consumer level, popular department store El Corte Inglés has reported a 25% sales increase in the space of a year. However, pre- and post-Brexit fears of aslump in the value of the pound against the euro prompted many Brits to “lock in” the price of their Spanish holiday by booking all-inclusive packages. According to Thomas Cook, six out of ten of all of its Spanish holidays sold to Brits were all-inclusive.
“Spain now accounts for around 20% of the total number of visits by British people abroad,” said an ABTA spokeswoman.
In other words, for every Brit who has left the UK this year, one in five has headed to Spain.