In 2014, Spain was visited by 65 million inbound tourists (a new record). This represents a year-on-year increase of 7.1% or 4.3 million more tourists than in the previous year.
Three markets – the United Kingdom, France and Germany – accounted for 55% of all inbound tourists in 2014, eight points lower than the proportion represented by these countries ten years ago. They posted upward trends when compared with 2013 and the highest increases in absolute terms for the year – especially France, with 1.1 million additional tourists. The other main emitting markets also posted increases when compared with 2013, except for Russia, which shrank by 10%.
Hotel complex (Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism)The number of tourists travelling independently (70% of the total) grew more than those who opted to travel on a package holiday (7.5% compared with 6.3%). The number of independent travels increased from all the main markets – especially France – the only exception being the United States.
The number of inbound tourists rose in all destination autonomous regions when compared with 2013, with Catalonia leading this growth as the top destination and almost 1.2 million additional tourists.
Total spending by inbound tourists amounted to 63.09 billion euros in 2014, up 6.5% on the previous year and a new all-time record. The average spend per person fell slightly while the average spend per day remained practically the same as the previous year, at 971 euros and 110 euros, respectively.
As regards residents in Spain and according to preliminary data on 2014, the number of journeys made amounted to 152 million. This is approximately 2% fewer than the previous year. 92% correspond to domestic travel while the remaining 8% correspond to international tourism. The trends posted by the two types of travel were unbalanced. While the former posted a downturn the latter posted growth, as reflected by the increase in payments from tourism in the Balance of Payments. As regards domestic travel, the number of trips made to privately-owned properties or those owned by friends and relatives fell while those made to hotel accommodation posted an increase. This is reflected in the increase in overnight stays in hotels by residents shown in the Hotel Occupation Survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (Spanish acronym: INE).
After publishing its annual data, the World Tourism Organisation confirmed that Spain is the world’s third-top destination for inbound tourists and the second-top country in terms of revenue from tourism (Balance of Payments). According to the International Congress and Convention Association, Spain was the world’s third-top destination for meeting and conference tourism in 2013.
To November (most recent period available), the Balance of Payments shows increases in both revenue from tourism and payments for tourism (4% and 9.4%, respectively), amounting to 46.41 billion euros and 12.45 billion euros, respectively. The balance for this period under this heading shows a surplus of 33.96 billion euros, up 2.1% on the same period in 2013. In the period January-September 2014 (the most recent period for which trade balance information is available), the tourism and travel balance covers 174% of the Spanish trade deficit.
According to the latest data released by the Tourism Satellite Account (2012), the tourism sector accounts for 11% of GDP.
As regards employment, data from the Labour Force Survey (Spanish acronym: EPA) on the fourth quarter of 2014 and data on affiliation to the Social Security system in 2014 reveal the following:
According to the EPA, the number of people employed in the tourism sector rose by 7.7% in the fourth quarter of 2014 to a total of 2,204,842. This group represents 12.5% of the workforce in the Spanish economy.
Among those employed in the tourism sector, the number of salaried employees rose by 7.8% and the number of self-employed rose by 7.6%.
The number of unemployed from tourism activities amounted to 423,304 in the last quarter of the year, with the percentage of unemployed over employed standing at 16.1% (compared with 18.9% the previous year). The unemployment rate in the national economy stood at 23.7%, compared with 25.7% in the same quarter of 2013.
According to the data on affiliation to the Social Security system, the average number of people employed in tourism activities in 2014 rose by 3.4% year-on-year to 2,001,448 workers registered with the Social Security system (12.1% of the total number of workers comprising the workforce in the Spanish economy).
Tourist Office (Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism)Spanish Tourism Policy Objectives
Fully aware of the significance of tourism for Spain, the Ministry of Industry – through the State Secretariat of Tourism – has implemented the National Comprehensive Tourism Plan (Spanish acronym: PNIT) adopted by the Council of Ministers on 22 June 2012. The purpose of this plan is to improve the competitiveness of both businesses and destinations alike, increase profitability from industry and support Spain’s global leadership in this sector. The plan constitutes the Government of Spain’s strategy for the period 2012-2015. Between the time it was implemented and January 2014, 72% of the plan has been set in motion.
The strategic dimensions on which the PNIT is based are: the strength of the “Spain” brand, a customer-focused approach, offer and destination planning, alignment of public and private operators, the knowledge economy, talent recruitment and retention, and support for innovation and entrepreneurship.
As the Government of Spain’s tourism policy does, the plan adopts a cross-cutting approach: all public authorities, all ministerial departments, private initiative and society have been involved in drawing up and implementing this plan.
Hence, numerous measures taken by other ministerial departments have had a positive influence on tourism. These include the labour reform, the amendments made to the Coastal Act, the speeding up of visa issues (for example, visa issues in China increased by 30% in 2013) and the modulation of airport charges.
Over the course of this legislature, it was also decided to enhance the role played by SEGITTUR – the State Company for the Management of Innovation and Technologies in Tourism that is managed under the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism and overseen by the State Secretariat of Tourism.
SEGITTUR is charged with the task of driving innovation (R&D+i) in the Spanish tourism industry, in both the public and private sectors. In addition to its support for activities by Turespaña to date, SEGITTUR is acting as a spearhead for Spanish companies (mainly SMEs) that have committed to innovation in the tourism sector by helping them in their search for previously inaccessible overseas markets and boosting the internationalisation of companies in this sector.
The Policy for Promoting Tourism Abroad
The Spanish Tourism Institute (Turespaña) is the independent body of the General State Administration in charge of promoting Spain as a tourist destination in the international markets.
Through Turespaña, the Ministry of Industry has committed to a new promotion policy. First of all, it is based on new information and communication technologies and social media, moving away from traditional media. Secondly, priority markets have been identified and a process of segmentation has been applied to the demand from these markets. The idea is to focus promotional resources on those markets and products that most contribute to achieving the goal of increasing the profitability associated with tourist spending.
Within the priority markets, a distinction has been made between mature markets and emerging markets. Mature markets are already consolidated markets that produce the majority of inbound tourists who visit Spain. In these countries, the strategy is based on increasing the loyalty of tourists who visit Spain and attracting new demand segments that consume products other than traditional tourism products (art and culture, urban tourism, Spanish gastronomy, nature and conference tourism). On the other hand, the emerging markets are where Spain is mainly basing its promotion strategy on improving its position as a tourist destination.
Overseas promotion takes place via the Spanish Tourism Offices. These offices undertake promotional activities in the emitting markets in collaboration with other stakeholders (regional governments, regional and local bodies and product clubs). Concerted actions are carried out in conjunction with other authorities and the private sector, which enable a joint effort to be made thus resulting in a greater impact and visibility.
In order to increase effectiveness and efficiency, the Ministry of Industry has begun a process to reorganise the geographic distribution of these offices in order to adapt their locations to the new challenges and criteria present in the tourism industry. All this work is being fully coordinated by the Advisory Council of Turespaña, which is almost entirely made up by the private sector.
Spain currently has a network of 33 tourist offices (managed under Turespaña) in 25 countries. The offices play an essential role for the Spanish tourism sector but their geographic and staffing structure still respond, for the most part, to conditions that existed when the majority of them were set up. The Ministry of Industry has therefore chosen to transform the network in terms of the role to be played by the offices, overseas personnel and their geographic location.