Diversification, quality and sustainability distinguish Spain as a tourist destination

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Diversification, quality and sustainability distinguish Spain as a tourist destination

A group of tourists following their guide through the Old Town in Valencia. Photo: EFE/Manuel Bruque. (EFE)
A group of tourists following their guide through the Old Town in Valencia. Photo: EFE/Manuel Bruque. (EFE)

World Tourism Day, on 27 September, addressed the power of sustainable tourism, this year under the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism: A Tool for Development’. The UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) promotes respect for the nature, the culture and the people of the countries tourists choose as their travel destinations.

Diversification, quality and sustainability are three characteristics of Spain as a tourist destination. Our country keeps breaking records in this sector: it attracted nearly 47 million tourists in the first seven months of 2017 (up 11.3% year over year). Moreover, according to the figures published by the National Statistics Institute (INE), foreign tourists spent 15.1% more, a total 49,119 million euro.

Up to 4.5 million more foreign tourists than in the same period last year came to Spainin the first seven months of 2017. Catalonia stands atop the list of the most popular Spanish destinations with tourists coming from abroad. The UK is the main source of outbound travellers coming to Spain, with more than 10 million, followed by Germany and France, with 6.8 and 6.2 million, respectively.

The average tourist expenditure increased by 5.6% to 1132 euro in July, while daily spending went up by 6% to 139 euro compared with July 2016.

‘The tourism industry moves mainly around sun and sea but we want to diversify the sector, moving it away from the concept of peak summer season, to make our country popular with tourists all year round. We want to offer new attractions to visitors interested in shopping, health and wellness, sports or cultural tourism,’ said the High Commissioner for Marca España, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, at the Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda Committee meeting in Congress.

Focusing on diversification

Facts and figures show that diversification is an adequate strategy for Spanish tourism. Health tourism is expected to draw more than 140,000 international tourists by the end of 2017, who will get medical treatments or surgery in private healthcare centres in our country. As to shopping tourism, it generated revenues for about 2000 million euro in 2016 (+2% vis-à-vis the past year), an 8% share of the total income from shopping tourism worldwide.

Likewise, 10.1 million tourists visited our country to attend sporting events in 2016, spending 11,901 million euro during their stay. Finally, a surge was seen in cultural tourism, courtesy of Spain’s top museums, which attracted over 9.5 million visitors last year.

As Mr Espinosa de los Monteros points out, ‘Tourists are not just visitors, they are influencers.’ This is why we have to bet on quality tourism to promote and boost our country’s image, and to woo potential repeat visitors, a group among which Spain is a global leader.