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TOURISM

What do foreign tourists spend their money on in Spain?

BBVA bank survey uses credit card purchases to track visitors’ vacation expenditure

A screen grab of the interactive map illustratring the BBVA study. pulsa en la foto
A screen grab of the interactive map illustratring the BBVA study.

How much does the average tourist spend during their summer vacation in Spain? Leading Spanish bank BBVA has put together an exhaustive report that aims to answer that question and others related to expenditure by foreign visitors in the country. The report, whose results have been presented in the form of an interactive map, is based on credit card use by foreigners during July and August 2014. Among the conclusions are that the French spend most on their vacations, making up 18% of the total; Barcelona takes the lion’s share of 23% of all spending, while the Balearic Islands is where foreigners outspend Spaniards the most.

The survey, based on more than 5.4 million individual transactions, not only provides detailed information on nationalities, cities and even peak times of day for spending, but also what visitors buy. The greater part of most nationalities’ vacation money goes on clothes, except for the British and Americans, who prefer to splash out on eating and drinking.

Barcelona takes the lion’s share of 23% of all spending, while the Balearic Islands is where foreigners outspend Spaniards the most

BBVA’s analysis produces a significantly different picture from the one extracted each year by the country’s tourism authorities. Why? Because while the official figures are garnered from surveys and include everything tourists spend from the moment they lock their front door behind them (including air tickets and excursions organized by cruise ships), the BBVA report only calculates credit card expenditure once visitors have arrived in Spain.

The bank accessed data from electronic card readers in shops, bars and hotels. “It provides an unprecedented among of information, including location, that other survey-based methods don’t give,” say the report’s authors.

Among the details that emerge from the survey are that British tourists spend more on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and that most payments are made before 12 noon and after 8pm. Around 21% of British visitors’ average spend of €137 is in restaurants, with 8% going on transport.

The BBVA study allows you to see, for example, what British tourists spent in Spain in July and August 2014. ampliar foto
The BBVA study allows you to see, for example, what British tourists spent in Spain in July and August 2014.

After the French, the nationalities who spent the most in July and August 2014 in Spain on average were the British (16.2% of the total and 13.6% of transactions), the Germans (7.2% and 6.5%), the Dutch (4.4% and 5.5%), and the Russians (7.1% and 5.0%). But depending on the location, the picture changes: in Málaga, Ibiza and Tenerife, the British top the list; in Madrid the Americans come first, while the Italians head up spending in Santiago de Compostela.

The Chinese, who have one of the highest per capita spending rates, are among the top five biggest spenders in Barcelona and Madrid,  while the Russians are among the top five in Tenerife, Málaga-Costa del Sol and Barcelona.

In terms of areas, Barcelona tops the list of places where tourists spend the most in summer, making up 23% of the total in Spain in 2014. It is followed by the Balearics (14%), Málaga (12%), Madrid (9%), Alicante (8%), Girona (7%), Valencia (3%) and Tenerife (3%).

“Fashion and shoes is the category on which visitors spend the most (accounting for 54% of Chinese spending, 45% of Argentineans’, 41% of Australians’, and 39% of Mexicans’, Russians’, or Koreans’),” explains the BBVA study.

Italians, Americans and the Finnish go out the most in the evenings, with Saturday tending to be their big night out.

Another of the interactive maps in the report shows the trips visitors make within Spain. “It can be seen that the Belgians and Norwegians tend to focus on the Mediterranean coast. But Mexicans and Venezuelans make their base in Madrid, then travel throughout the country. Other groups tend to pass through Barcelona first,” the report concludes.

 

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