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Spain’s Tourism Figures 2009 “A Year to Forget”

Posted on 15 February 2010 by admin

Tourism has been affected greatly in Spain, by the weak pound and the economic recession in the UK.

The decline in the UK market (usually Spain’s most important feeder market) has forced numerous small businesses to close down. English style pubs and cafes have been the worst hit.

The downturn in other feeder markets, such as France, Germany, and Ireland, as well as economic problems in Spain itself, have all helped to savage the tourist industry, which once accounted for 12% of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product)

British Pub in Spain

British Style Pubs have been the Worst Hit

Along with the construction sector, which is also in steep decline, this has helped to push unemployment upward, and contribute to the sharp decline of the Spanish economy.

The tourist industry’s contribution to last year’s GDP slipped well below 10%, as the number of foreign tourist visitors fell by more than 10%. Price wars among tour operators, and a fall in spending by visitors, also contributed to the volume decline.

In fact, 2009 was described by José Luis Zoreda, vice-chairman of the industry body Exceltur, as ‘ a year to forget’.

Spain has lost out largely to emerging, cheaper destinations, such as Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Bulgaria.

Greece is the only country that has fared worse than Spain in the downturn. Greece is in fact, is in danger of becoming a bankrupt nation.

Spain now needs to work hard to ensure that we don’t lose British tourists, as their economy picks up, to these other countries.

Business travel has also been affected, with the drop in trade fairs and exhibitions. The recent Fitur travel fair in Madrid reported a marked down swing in attendance and exhibitor participation.

NH hotels, a chain of business hotels has claimed that profits in the sector could take several years to recover, even if occupancy rates pick up this year.

Not only the inbound market is suffering. Because of job insecurity, and chronic unemployment, Spaniards themselves are cutting back on foreign travel. Morocco is the hardest hit, noting a 15 to 20% decline in bookings.

However, in December 2009, Spain received 2.7 million foreign visitors, representing a 3.6% decrease over December 2008.

The 52.2 million total tourists who visited Spain in 2009, represent an 8.7% decrease.

A survey shows that the decline was moderated over the course of the year. A 16% decline in the first quarter, became only 11.4% in the first six months. The last quarter lower still, going down to only 3.6% in December. The tourism ministry assesses that the total fall in the number of foreign tourists actually amounted to less than the expected 10% overall.

The number one national destination in 2009 was Catalunya, with 12.7 million tourists, although this represents a drop of 11% over the area’s previous year.

The biggest majority of visitors to Spain were British, although 15.5% down on the previous year. 13.3 million tourists came from the UK, the main factor in the reduction was the economic situation in the UK, and the weak pound.

In second place was the German market, bringing 8.9 million tourists (a decrease of 11.3%)

France brought 7.9 million tourists, only 2.9% less than in 2008.

3.3 million Scandinavians (7.1% less) and 3.1 million Italians (5.1% less) added to the market

The Ministry of Tourism claims that over the last few months of the year, there was a ‘clear slowdown’ in the decline in tourism, so despite large downturns, the overall statistics are better than expected. Having forecast a fall of more than 10%, the actual outcome was slightly less than 10%.

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One Response to “Spain’s Tourism Figures 2009 “A Year to Forget””

  1. suzyh says:

    Spain’s still my favourite destination, especially Lloret, I go all the time, now flights are so cheap, I can do long weekends

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