TOURISM was one of Spain’s main economic growth areas last year, accounting for nearly €187 billion and a record 12.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The figures have been compiled by Exceltur- a national association that brings together some 30 big tourist-related companies.

Growth in 2023 was 13.1% and was spread out over all months of the year, including the last quarter, well after the high season period.

It means that tourism accounted for 70.8% of the Spanish economy’s growth with Exceltur predicting a positive 2024.

Figures released this week showed that 2023 was a record year for Spain’s airports with passenger numbers surpassing the previous best five years ago.

Also based on the first 11 months of 2023, last year is also expected to produce record numbers of foreign visitors to Spain.

Foreign demand for Spain grew significantly last year, driven by both the sharp increase in higher-spending markets and the repositioning of higher-value segments in traditional markets.

The Central European and United Kingdom markets along with the US markets grew, compensating for the decline in German and Nordic visitors.

“We are proud that tourism is the mainstay of the Spanish economy and that it has also created more and better jobs,” said the executive vice-president of Exceltur, Jose Luis Zoreda.

If it were not for tourism, the Spanish economy would have grown by 0.8% last year, instead of the 2.4% estimated by the Bank of Spain, according to Luis Zoreda.

The forecasts for 2024 are also very positive, although more moderate, as corporate results will continue to be affected by accumulated inflation, as well as increases in salary and financial costs.

“In the year 2024, all the records of economic value that Spanish tourism has had in its history will be surpassed,” Zoreda explained.

According to Exceltur, this year will consolidate the progress of tourism activity in Spain. 

It’s predicting a rise in tourist revenues to reach a record €202 billion accounting for 13.4% of Spain’s GDP- contributing 41.4% of the projected real growth of the Spanish economy.

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