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TOURISM

How much are foreign tourists spending in Spain?

The number of visitors is up, and so are their budgets, according to new industry figures

Tourists pack Levante beach in Benidorm.
Tourists pack Levante beach in Benidorm. EFE

Tourists who visited Spain in the first three months of the year spent more than those who came during the same period last year, industry sources said on Monday.

Tourist spending grew 7.0% year-on-year to reach over €10.7 billion by late March, while visitor numbers rose 5.3% for a three-month total of 10.6 million people, according to the Institute for Tourism Studies (IET), which answers to the Industry Ministry.

The numbers show that not only are more people coming to Spain, but they also have bigger budgets.

How much does a tourist spend in Spain?

Average tourist spending in the first quarter of the year was €1,015 for the entire trip and €116 a day, representing a 1.6% and a 3.1% increase, respectively, from the same period last year.

But a traveler’s budget depends on many factors. Official statistics reflect all expenses incurred from the moment a tourist leaves his or her residence until they return home. This includes airline or sea cruise tickets, even if the money does not go to Spanish companies.

By that standard, Latin American tourists spend a lot while French or Portuguese nationals, who often drive to Spain, contribute little to the official figures.

Keeping this variable in mind, the biggest spenders are Scandinavians (€1,184 per tourist) and Germans (€1,024).

Where do most of the tourist receipts come from?

Visitors to Spain spent a combined total of €10.7 billion from January to March. Although Scandinavian tourists are more ‛profitable’ in that they each spend more than visitors from other nations, the biggest overall contributors are the British, whose sheer numbers mean a higher total disbursement.

Visitors from the UK spent a combined €1.88 billion, a 14.8% rise from the same period last year. They were followed by the Germans with €1.69 billion and Italians with €503 million.

What Spanish regions do tourists favor?

The Madrid region is where travelers spend the most money on average: €1,177 per stay and €150 a day. However, because Madrid does not receive as many visitors as other regions of Spain, the overall champion is the Canary Islands, with tourism expenditure of €3.56 billion between January and March, followed by Catalonia (€2.29 billion) and Andalusia (€1.54 billion).

If tourists are spending more, does Spain get more revenues?

In principle, if tourist spending goes up, the tourism sector should benefit. But there is a difference between what a tourist spends and what Spain collects per tourist. Because travel to and from Spain is included in tourist spending even if the travel company is not Spanish, a better measure of tourism revenues is the balance of payments drawn up by the Bank of Spain, which measures currency inflows.

This agency, however, does not release figures as frequently as the IET. The last available statistics are from January, and show tourism spending to be €3.06 billion, compared with the €3.4 billion reflected by the tourism institute.