The British tourist is back

The United Kingdom is once again the first issuer of tourists to Spain, a position that it had ceded to France during the covid pandemic, with figures still far from those of 2019 but with an exponential increase, of 1,500% over the same month of last year.

According to data released this Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE), 2.486 million international tourists entered Spain in January, six times more than a year earlier but still almost two million below January 2020, before the pandemic. .

The expenditure associated with these tourists stood at 3,027 million euros in January, 562% more than in 2021, and still far from the 4,479 million in the same month two years ago.

In the comparison, it must be taken into account that January of last year was a very bad month (barely 434,000 tourists entered), with very limited movements after the growth of covid infections from the previous Christmas.

The hotel sector had advanced that December and January would be low months, still impacted by the effect of the expansion of the omicron variant, and they were confident that the numbers would begin to improve from February, but now the crisis unleashed by Russia with the invasion of Ukraine keeps them cautious, awaiting developments.

Although British tourism had already regained the first position in the last quarter of 2021, the strong growth in January reflects the beginning of the return to normality. Tourists from the United States also increased vigorously (1,028%), although in absolute figures they were 68,694 people, half that of January 2020, just before the health crisis was declared.

United Kingdom, the highest growth among the large emitters

The most significant data from the January surveys is the boost in tourism from the United Kingdom, with 363,150 people (an increase of 1,460%, the highest among the large emitters), so that it recovered the position it lost in the pandemic in favor from France.

The increase of the British is much more significant than in other countries because the starting base in the comparison is very low due to the strong travel restrictions imposed by their Government throughout the covid crisis. In fact, in January 2021 only 23,217 tourists arrived from the United Kingdom, which explains this strong growth of more than 15 times.

In the whole of 2019, 18.52 million British tourists arrived in Spain; in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, they stood at 3.17 million, and in 2021 only 4.29 million Britons were counted. The community that benefited the most from this return of British tourism was the Canary Islands, which concentrated 760,000 tourists (30.6% of the total). Of those more than 750,000, 26.5% were British.

France, second and Germany, third

France was in second place among the issuing countries, with almost 348,000 travelers, followed by Germany -which in pre-pandemic times was second-, with 282,280 people (452% more). In January, before the escalation of Russian tension over Ukraine, 18,444 Russian tourists came to Spain, 450% more than a year earlier but still far from the 67,211 in that month of 2019 and the 64,262 in the same period of 2020.

After the Canary Islands as the first destination was Catalonia, with 463,661 people (18.6% of the total), who came mainly from France and the rest of Europe (not counting the large emitters), and Andalusia, with 323,896 tourists, (13%). from the UK and the Netherlands. In the rest of the most touristic communities (Balearic Islands, Valencian Community and Madrid) the increases also exceeded 450%.

The plane regains ground

The plane recovered positions as the means chosen to travel to Spain, with more than two million people (increase of 703%), and so did the ship, with an increase of 510%, although only 19,500 people arrived by this route. By contrast, the train fell by 9.4%, to 6,666 people.

The second access route was the road, with 430,127 people, 146% more than a year before. The majority of tourists chose hotel accommodation (1.46 million, 551% more), another half million spent the night in the homes of relatives or friends and 216,700 in owned homes.

The average expenditure per tourist rises 16.5%

The average spending per tourist stood at 1,217 euros, with an increase of 16.5%, and the average daily spending rose 16.7%, to 124 euros (144 before covid). In January the average duration of the trips stood at 9.9 days, the same as in that month last year.

In line with tourist figures, British citizens spent the most money on their trips to Spain, with 450 million euros, followed by Germans (398 million), Nordics (292 million), French (255 million) and Italians. (131 million).

The largest increase was for the British (1,558%) and the Nordics (896%). The largest volume of spending was concentrated in the Canary Islands (1,130 million), Catalonia (436 million), Madrid (386 million), Andalusia (376 million) and the Valencian Community (323 million).

EAE Business School professor Esther Gonz├ílez Arnedo has said that Spain continues to depend heavily on the tourism model low cost. The increase in average spending per tourist, he adds, continues to be “the Achilles’ heel” of the Spanish tourism model, with figures lower than those recorded by competitors such as Italy, France or the United States.

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