Saturday, April 02, 2011

Holidays in Spain, the facts

So, when are you coming?

Holidays in Spain, the facts



One of the extraordinary things about Spain is the sheer number of people who come, annually, from abroad to take their holidays in Spain.  In fact, some 53 million people visit Spain each year and, of course, the vast majority are holidaymakers.

To put 53 million people into perspective – you have to appreciate that the total population of Spain is only some 46.5 million.  So (to state the obvious), more people come to Spain every year as visitors than actually live permanently in the country!

Of these 53 million visitors, some 13 million come from the UK with the vast majority coming over for their holidays in Spain, during the comparitively short holiday seasons of Easter and summer.  Indeed, the dramatic affect of tourism in Spain can be seen from looking at somewhere like Benidorm, which has a resident population of around 71,000 people.  However, Benidorm has over 5 million visitors a year and a capacity in excess of 300,000 people at any given time!

Needless to say, Spain is the top most visited country by Britons annually – with France next, the Irish Republic third and the USA in fourth place.  Meanwhile, 80% of visits abroad from Britons are, not surprisingly, to Europe.

Internationally, the most visited country in the world is France with around 78 million visitors a year.  The USA is next with 60 million and then China (55 million), which has just recently edged Spain into fourth place.

It hardly needs adding that the impact of foreigners taking their holidays in Spain is massive.  Indeed, in 2010 this meant some $53 billion came into the country’s coffers from tourism in Spain.



For what very little it is worth, a Daily Mail poll stated that Spain was the 4th most unwelcoming country in Europe, with France credited with being the most unwelcoming and Holland the most welcoming.  More than likely, the dubious results of the poll indicated little more than the willingness (and ability) of the people from each country surveyed to speak English to the Britons questioned..  Thus, with the Dutch being invariable fluent in English – they would have appeared the most welcoming!

Interestingly, the ABTA Travel Trends Report for 2011 states that ‘while certain parts of the travel industry are in flux, Spain’s main draws — its weather, its beaches, its culture and its food — remain as constant as ever.

A further extract from ABTA’s report also states:


Our favourite destination will also be a hot one for 2011. In the wars over price, certain accommodation and local service providers have lowered their costs to try and draw some of the business being won by non-euro spots like Turkey and Egypt.

There’s also been a rise in awareness of the product on offer away from the coast, with discerning travellers in particular now being presented with more options to explore the world-class attributes of the interior, both urban and rural, while this spring, a new Carmen Thyssen Museum is set to open in Malaga which will house 180 works from Andalucian artists.

Meanwhile, getting around has become even easier with the relatively recent introduction of the AVE high-speed rail links between Barcelona and Madrid, and Madrid and Valencia (due 19 December 2010).

2011 can also look forward to some increased flight capacity from the UK to Spain. The much needed extra flights from Scotland will be provided by from Glasgow and Edinburgh, while many Spanish destinations including Mallorca, which suffered badly from route cuts last year, will see some capacity put back on during the winter.

Perhaps thanks to the ‘slow break’ concept in Ibiza, which merges two concepts together – the ‘short break’ and the ‘slow movement’ lifestyle… BA will start to fly from Ibiza two months earlier than normal from London City Airport – in March, while Ryanair is operating to the island on a year round basis and further new routes from East Midlands airport are scheduled.

An aspect to the above that is interesting (which was no doubt written before the disturbances in North Africa) is the fact that there is a trend for people taking their holidays in Spain to be looking at non-beach holidays in Spain.



Indeed, the ‘world-class attributes of the interior,(of Spain) both urban and rural’ seem to be gaining in popularity, as people finally discover that there is far more to Spain than just sun, sand, sangria and clubbing.  Over time, this may well have an increasing impact upon tourism in Spain.

In fact, Spain is likely to be marketing itself more aggressively in the future to draw attention to its non-beach attributes.  Gradually, the authorities are beginning to realise that the intrinsic culture of Spain has value, is of interest to foreigners and is something that can be used to set Spain apart from other countries able to offer little more than sun/sea holidays.

Certainly, the historic and varied culture of Spain with its traditional Moorish/Christian mix means that there is plenty for cultural tourists to enjoy – backed by innumerable hotels and places to stay.  The latter often provide remarkable value for money and are ideal for long weekend breaks.



Needless to say, Spain has been blessed by great natural resouces pertinent to tourism -  proximity to wealthy North European countries, superb beaches, a benevolent climate and a culture that is naturally tolerant. Add to this, good communications, political stability and  a user-friendly (and well matured) tourist infrastructure and you have a country ideally placed to offer exactly the type of holidays most people want.

So, Spain’s pre-eminence as a major holiday destination seems secure for the future – perhaps even more so now, given the volatility of other Mediterranean countries.  Certainly, few things put holidaymakers off a country more than political instability or physical insecurity – neither of which are problems for those choosing Spain for their holidays…


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