copy the linklink copied!Spain

copy the linklink copied!Tourism in the economy

Tourism is one of the cornerstones of the Spanish economy and an outstanding driver of economic and social development. In 2017 it accounted for 11.8% of GDP and in 2018 sustained 13.5% of employment (or 2.6 million direct jobs). Tourism continues to contribute substantially to offsetting the country's trade deficit with tourism receipts amounting to EUR 62.5 billion, in 2018 – a growth of 3.6% compared with 2017. In 2018, tourist arrivals reached 82.8 million (+1.1% compared to 2017), generating EUR 89.8 billion in international receipts (+3.3% compared to 2017). Travel exports represented  52.3% of total service exports in 2018.

The top three inbound markets for Spain are the United Kingdom (22.4% of tourist arrivals), Germany (13.8%), and France (13.6%). There has been an increase in long-haul inbound travel from markets such as the United States, China and South Korea, largely due to improvements in air connectivity and growth in the global economy.

Spanish domestic tourism is also very significant. In 2018, Spain recorded a total of 425.4 million domestic trips, of which 139.9 million were overnight (+1.1% compared to 2017) and 285.5 million were day visitors (+1.9% from 2017).

copy the linklink copied!Tourism governance and funding

National responsibility for tourism lies within the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism since 2018, having previously been under the umbrella of the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda. The State Secretariat for Tourism continues to be responsible for defining, developing, co-ordinating and implementing tourism policy within the remit of central government’s responsibility, as well as related institutional relations at national and international levels. The State Secretariat co-ordinates three organisations at national level:

  • Turespaña, which is an autonomous body attached to the Ministry, responsible for carrying out the international tourism marketing and promotion of Spain. It leverages an international network of 33 tourism offices that support the implementation of the agreed marketing plan.

  • Paradores de Turismo, a public company that runs the state-owned hotel network with most of the establishments being located in historic sites, national parks or protected areas. There are now 97 establishments employing over 4 000 people.

  • State Organisation for Innovation and Tourism Technology Management (SEGITTUR), a public sector body responsible for the development of new technologies in the Spanish tourism industry, in both public and private sectors. It researches and manages technology, knowledge and innovation to enhance the competitiveness, quality and sustainability of all aspects of tourism.

Co-ordinating mechanisms between the central and regional administrations are also important, given the size of the tourism economy. The 17 autonomous regions are responsible for the regulation and promotion of tourism within their territories. Local level entities, such as provinces and municipalities, manage their tourism interests mainly in terms of promotion and dissemination of visitor information.

A recent law relating to the legal obligations of the public sector highlights a range of fora established for effective co-ordination between tourism and related ministries, and key stakeholders – see box below.

The State Secretariat for Tourism had an overall budget of EUR 336 million for 2018. In addition, the 17 autonomous regions and other bodies also contribute significantly to the overall expenditure on tourism.

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Spain: Organisational chart of tourism bodies
Spain: Organisational chart of tourism bodies

Source: OECD, adapted from Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, 2020.

copy the linklink copied!Tourism policies and programmes

Tourism policy in Spain is moving the Spanish tourism model towards the principles of sustainability, innovation and knowledge. The broad aim is to develop a smart and specialised high quality product, fit for the digital age. Sustainability means greater revenues and profits, improvement in the quality of experience, reduced seasonality and more efficient resource utilisation. Sustainable and inclusive tourism development demands a greater degree of innovation in the use of big data, digitalisation and smart tourism destinations.

Recently, Spain has begun to prepare a new Strategy of Sustainable Tourism for 2030. The aim is to transform Spanish tourism towards a model of both sustained and sustainable growth to maintain the country’s leading position in tourism, while protecting the assets on which the sector depends. The Strategy will contribute to the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals and meet both medium and long-term challenges of sustainable tourism in terms of socio-economic, environmental and territorial impacts.

The Strategy proposes that tourism growth should be based on the following five principles:

  • Socio-economic growth - including both a focus on improving business profitability and the equitable distribution of wealth, while at the same time guaranteeing greater sustainability by encouraging both the commercial sector and destinations to change and adapt.

  • Protection of natural and cultural resources - providing the foundation for the conservation of valuable heritage, addressing the need for ecological improvement, and promotion of the underlying environmental values as part of the tourism experience.

  • Social benefit - contributing directly to the great challenges of Spanish society, such as growing rural depopulation and inequality, tourism will be managed as an engine of economic and social development with the benefits and burdens distributed more equitably.

  • Wide participation and involvement - as tourism is a cross-cutting sector that involves many stakeholders mechanisms will be designed to ensure strong governance between administrations at all levels together with the tourism industry.

  • Permanent adaptation - the Strategy is not only concerned with growth and improvement but is also focused on supporting the sector to have the capacity to respond to a highly dynamic environment, illustrated by new and emerging business models, changing customer motivations and increasing competition.

Digitalisation and modernisation of all the various elements of the sector is a high priority with work to develop smart tourism destinations overseen by SEGITTUR, which is leading the Smart Tourist Destinations project. This aims to improve the position of Spain as a leading global tourism destination, seeking new mechanisms to boost destination innovation through the deployment of information and communication technologies in order to create different and highly competitive services.

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Tourism governance co-ordination measures in Spain

A recent law relating to the legal obligations of the public sector reinforces the importance of co-ordination measures which now include:

  • Sectoral Tourism Conference is a collegiate, advisory and executive co-ordination body which brings together high level public sector tourism representatives from central government and the autonomous regions. Chaired by the Minister for Tourism, it analyses, debates and is informed about any important policy issue or regulation affecting tourism.

  • Spanish Tourism Council (CONESTUR) is an advisory body, which brings national, regional and provincial/city tourism administrations together with the private sector including chambers of trade, the National Employers’ Association (CEOE), professional associations, trade unions and a wide spectrum of tourism professionals.

  • Inter-Ministerial Committee for Tourism, whose members represent those national ministries that have responsibility for tourism related matters.

  • Advisory Council of Turespaña, which comprises 11 members, five of which come from the private sector, and assists in defining and implementing the most appropriate strategies to market Spain abroad.

    These co-ordination entities have neither specific budget nor staff. They are all chaired by the Minister or the State Secretary for Tourism and all secretariat services are implemented by the State Secretariat for Tourism. Recent issues that have been covered include Brexit, the new Strategic Tourism Plan for Spain, short rental accommodation regulation, Thomas Cook insolvency, new Marketing Plan for Turespaña, tourism statistics and connectivity. Considering tourism’s cross-cutting nature, these co-ordination bodies will play a relevant and important role in Spanish tourism policy.

copy the linklink copied!Statistical Profile

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Spain: Domestic, inbound and outbound tourism

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

TOURISM FLOWS, THOUSAND

Domestic tourism

Total domestic trips

462 761 |

345 599

370 397

418 689

425 452

Overnight visitors (tourists)

139 615 |

123 923

132 201

138 357

139 931

Same-day visitors (excursionists)

323 146 |

221 676

238 196

280 332

285 521

Nights in all types of accommodation

621 835 |

476 459

508 758

517 502

507 739

Hotels and similar establishments

94 351 |

84 074

91 254

90 650

90 648

Other collective establishments

40 635 |

27 574

32 702

38 664

35 713

Private accommodation

486 850 |

364 810

384 802

388 187

381 378

Inbound tourism

Total international arrivals

107 614

109 834 |

115 561

121 717

124 456

Overnight visitors (tourists)

64 995

68 175 |

75 315

81 869

82 808

Same-day visitors (excursionists)

42 619

41 659 |

40 246

39 849

41 647

Top markets

United Kingdom

15 007

15 764 |

17 675

18 807

18 524

Germany

10 422

10 260 |

11 209

11 897

11 415

France

10 616

11 504 |

11 259

11 267

11 293

Nordic Countries

5 045

5 009 |

5 129

5 827

5 804

Italy

3 698

3 907 |

3 969

4 223

4 389

Nights in all types of accommodation

575 795

597 319 |

593 417

633 697

616 715

Hotels and similar establishments

279 623

288 472 |

280 646

291 692

287 884

Other collective establishments

34 830

41 004 |

26 547

32 412

35 599

Private accommodation

261 342

266 654 |

286 224

309 593

293 233

Outbound tourism

Total international departures

13 952 |

15 706

16 144

17 594

19 750

Overnight visitors (tourists)

11 783 |

12 488

13 272

14 351

16 424

Same-day visitors (excursionists)

2 169 |

3 218

2 872

3 243

3 326

Top destinations

France

2 124 |

1 836

2 147

2 462

2 410

Portugal

1 503 |

1 670

1 650

2 086

2 282

Italy

1 207 |

1 263

1 451

1 292

1 860

United Kingdom

993 |

1 188

1 299

1 388

1 465

Germany

688 |

891

804

803

948

TOURISM RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURE, MILLION EUR

Inbound tourism

Total international receipts

53 883

56 309

60 351

66 682

69 023

International travel receipts

53 883

56 309

60 351

66 682

69 023

International passenger transport receipts

..

..

..

..

..

Outbound tourism

Total international expenditure

13 572

15 724

16 998

19 611

22 692

International travel expenditure

13 572

15 724

16 998

19 611

22 692

International passenger transport expenditure

..

..

..

..

..

.. Not available; | Break in series

Source: OECD Tourism Statistics (Database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888934077882

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Spain: Enterprises and employment in tourism

Number of establishments

Number of persons employed

2018

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Total

..

..

..

..

..

..

Tourism industries

707 689

2 203 044

2 322 381

2 447 758

2 510 795

2 604 899

Accommodation services for visitors

229 760

321 742

344 323

395 968

402 530

409 208

Hotels and similar establishments

16 714

281 373

303 249

354 717

354 740

361 444

Food and beverage serving industry

269 405

1 082 036

1 160 832

1 208 180

1 234 568

1 298 528

Passenger transport

64 265

267 550

264 877

269 001

278 882

281 328

Air passenger transport

231

41 501

39 757

36 373

41 068

43 196

Railways passenger transport

71

24 614

22 562

25 981

28 705

26 791

Road passenger transport

63 307

191 924

193 646

197 406

200 806

199 190

Water passenger transport

656

9 512

8 912

9 241

8 303

12 151

Passenger transport supporting services

24 115

..

..

..

..

..

Transport equipment rental

7 850

178 068

182 726

204 261

212 381

215 580

Travel agencies and other reservation services industry

17 915

62 144

74 724

65 108

65 512

78 698

Cultural industry

40 812

96 630

99 411

97 179

110 266

112 674

Sports and recreation industry

53 567

194 874

195 490

208 060

206 656

208 884

Retail trade of country-specific tourism characteristic goods

..

..

..

..

..

..

Other country-specific tourism industries

..

..

..

..

..

..

Other industries

..

..

..

..

..

..

.. Not available

Source: OECD Tourism Statistics (Database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888934077901

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Spain: Internal tourism consumption
Million EUR

2015

Domestic tourism expenditure

Inbound tourism expenditure

Internal tourism consumption

Total

..

..

..

Consumption products

66 663

59 213

125 876

Tourism characteristic products

57 170

41 468

98 638

Accommodation services for visitors

..

..

..

Food and beverage serving services

..

..

..

Passenger transport services

..

..

..

Air passenger transport services

..

..

..

Railways passenger transport services

..

..

..

Road passenger transport services

..

..

..

Water passenger transport services

..

..

..

Passenger transport supporting services

..

..

..

Transport equipment rental services

..

..

..

Travel agencies and other reservation services industry

..

..

..

Cultural services

..

..

..

Sports and recreation services

..

..

..

Country-specific tourism characteristic goods

..

..

..

Country-specific tourism characteristic services

..

..

..

Other consumption products

9 494

17 745

27 239

Tourism connected products

..

..

..

Non-tourism related consumption products

..

..

..

Non-consumption products

..

..

..

.. Not available

Source: OECD Tourism Statistics (Database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888934077920

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