Why fewer tourists are visiting Spain
Newly published figures reveal slump in international visitors in July
The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain has fallen for the first time in almost a decade, according to official data.
A newly published report from the country’s National Institute of Statistics says that visitor numbers were down by 4.9% in July compared with the same period last year - the first drop for the key summer month since 2009.
Tourism accounts for around 11% of Spain’s economic output and the sector is the largest employer in Spain, says Reuters.
So this year’s drop comes as a shock, especially after the number of foreign visitors rose to 82 million last year, “making Spain the world’s second-most visited country after France”, the news site adds.
There had been warning signs, however. In the first seven months of 2018, visitor numbers rose by just 0.3%, compared with double-digit growth in the previous two years.
Spanish newspaper El Pais suggests that the drop may have been fuelled by a “recovery of alternative sun-and-sand destinations such as Tunisia and Turkey, whose tourism sector had suffered in recent years from terrorist attacks and regional instability”.
The paper adds: “In the case of Turkey, the recent depreciation of the lira has made the country even more attractive to foreign tourists.”
According to Reuters, these recovering regions have been “competing for German and British tourists, with packages priced up to 73% cheaper than the popular Spanish resort islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca”.
Last month, tour operator Thomas Cook reported a 63% year-on-year increase in bookings to Turkey during 2018, with “Antalya overtaking Mallorca’s Palma airport as the company’s most served for UK customers”, according to The Independent.