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International tourism in Spain- statistics & facts

Inbound tourism is one of the main drivers of the Spanish economy. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the expenditure by international tourists in Spain represented more than half of country’s service exports throughout the 2010s. Moreover, inbound tourism made up the largest share of total tourism expenditures in the Iberian country in 2019. Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), nonetheless, this trend was flipped, with domestic travelers accounting for more than 60 percent of the country’s tourism spending in 2020.

Tourism volume at a bare minimum

Given the travel and mobility restrictions imposed throughout the world in 2020, only around 19 million overnight tourists and 17.5 million excursionists visited Spain that year. The European country was one of the most affected by COVID-19 during the first months of that crisis, which led to strict quarantines. Air passenger transport —the main means of access for foreign overnight visitors in Spain— plummeted to minimum levels in those months, and stayed significantly below pre-pandemic averages throughout the rest of that year and the first half of 2021.

Leading source markets for inbound tourism in Spain

The United Kingdom had been the top source market for international tourism in Spain for several years. In 2020, nonetheless, the English-speaking country was outranked by France —Spain’s largest neighbor. In total, nearly 3.9 million French tourists traveled to a Spanish destination in that year. Meanwhile, the number of tourists from Germany in Spain, which was usually close to that of France, only amounted to roughly 2.4 million.

Most visited Spanish regions

The Balearic Islands missing the top three most popular Spanish destinations for the first time in years was one of the most noticeable changes in 2020. The Mediterranean archipelago was hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, driving away international tourism. Therefore, the most visited autonomous communities in Spain that year were Catalonia, the Canary Islands, and Andalusia. These regions combined received around 10 million international tourists. Most foreign visitors opted for coastal destinations, with some exceptions like the city of Madrid, which in that year welcomed more than one million tourists from abroad.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 24 most important statistics relating to "Inbound tourism in Spain".


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