Spain overtakes US as world’s second largest international tourism destination

Travel and tourism contributed €1 in every €7 to the Spanish economy last year, demonstrating the importance of the sector to the country.

This comes in a year in which Spain overtook the US as the country with the second largest number of international visitor arrivals in a year behind France.

The figures come from the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review of the economic impact and social importance of the sector.

The WTTC predicts the Spanish travel and tourism sector will grow by 2.8%  this year – above the European average of 2.5%.

The research shows that tourism to Spain last year:

  • Grew by 2.4% to contribute or €178 billion to the Spanish economy, or 14.6% of Spanish GDP
  • Employed 2.8 million people, or 14.7% of all jobs
  • Attracted 88% leisure visitors and 12% business travellers
  • Saw a split of 55% vs. 45% in terms of international and domestic visitors
  • Was the fifth largest tourism economy in the EU and ninth in the world in terms of total contribution to GDP

WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “2018 was another year of strong growth for the global travel and tourism sector reinforcing its role as a driver of economic growth and job creation.

“For the eighth consecutive year, our sector outpaced growth in the wider global economy and we recorded the second-highest growth of any major sector in the world.

“In Spain, consumer spending experienced robust growth and the travel and tourism sector performed well last year.

“Spain has the potential to increase the size of its travel economy even further by growing the size of its business tourism sector. At present, business travellers account for only 12% of all spending in Spain against a European average of 21%.”

The WTTC’s 2019 Global Summit is being held in Seville next month.


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