Tourism boom fuels the Spanish economy
In a time of crisis, tourism confirms its place as the economy’s supreme and most powerful motor in many countries. While the world and Spain were plunged into a double recession, the crisis in the travel sector was shorter and softer. The Spanish sector-specific GDP only dropped one year, when compared to the four years the country’s overall economy experienced.
Today, as we begin to feel the recovery phase, it’s safe to say growth is returning and tourism has emerged as the national economic driver with growth rates well above the country’s GDP.
Tourism only began to gain weight initially as a generator of wealth and employment with the flood of foreign tourists (four consecutive years of record-beating numbers, with 2017 set to be the fifth) and later because of the recovery of Spanish tourists over the last couple of years.
However, the scope of the tourism sector also accounts for the impact induced by the boom in other industries, Spain’s economic dependence on tourism is evident in the eyes of others. The entire activity generated by the smooth running of the tourism sector shoots its contribution up to 16% of the country’s GDP according to estimations in a report compiled by Caixabank’s research service.
Almost 1/6 of the Spanish economy is connected to tourism performing well. This influence is well above the average 9.6% registered by all the countries in the European Union.
Spain has smashed its own tourism records each year for the past four years, and it looks as if 2017 will be no different. Numbers peaked at 75 million visitors last year, and the influx of visitors could easily reach 84 million this year, almost 12% more than the estimations from Caixabank Research.
The sector has benefitted from the problems in other destinations in the Mediterranean to achieve this record-breaking numbers. Geopolitical instability in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey has led to millions of foreign tourists coming to Spain instead, and according to industry estimates, has been fuelled by some 12 million visitors.
For the coming year, we need to take stock of what has been accomplished over the last five years, learn from our mistakes and adapt to new market conditions to remain at the cusp of world tourism. Spain is a benchmark in the tourism sector, and we must continue to lead the way.