Travel and tourism in Spain - Statistics & Facts

Spain is an established market in the global travel industry and ranks as one of the world’s leading travel destinations. In 2016, international tourism expenditure valued 58.9 billion euros and with figures predicted to rise in 2017, the future market outlook remains positive.

Travel and tourism are important activities for the Spanish economy as they have a major impact on the country’s economic growth and employment. In 2016, the tourism sector made a total contribution of around 159 billion euros to GDP in Spain and added a total of around 2.65 million jobs.

The country is split into 17 autonomous communities, of which Catalonia is the most visited by international tourists, followed by the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. Tourists are drawn to the country’s Mediterranean coastal resorts and islands for holiday and vacation travel, as well as the city break destinations of Barcelona and Madrid. Key international markets visiting Spain include the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Barcelona is the second most populous city in Spain and capital city of Catalonia. As a tourist destination, Barcelona is not only one of the most popular in Spain but also in Europe. Worldwide the city ranked as the 25th most visited city based on international arrivals in 2015 and 8th among European city destinations. That year the total number of tourists to Barcelona, including domestic visitors, reached over 8 million.

National tourism in Spain is not to be overlooked. The number of Spanish travelers participating in travel is high, with considerably more domestic trips taken than outbound trips. One of the main destinations for residents in Spain is Andalusia, while popular outbound destinations include France, Portugal and Italy.

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