Spain records best-ever May tourism figures

The coastal beauty of Spain. Credit: TravMedia

The coastal beauty of Spain. Credit: TravMedia

Spain has recorded its best-ever May tourism figures, with 5.8 million inbound tourists – an increase of 7.4% on the same month in 2012 – according to new figures from the Frontier Tourist Movement Survey (FRONTUR).

The statistics were drafted by the Institute for Tourism Studies of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, and the 5.8 million figure sets a new all-time record for the FRONTUR survey when compared with the figures for May in other years.

In absolute terms, tourists visiting from the UK and Germany were the main cause of this growth. The Russian market also posted a large increase.

To date this year, a total of 19.8 million inbound tourists have visited Spain. This is an increase of 3.9% on the same period last year. The countries making the largest contribution to this growth were France and the United Kingdom, while the tourist destinations to most benefit were the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and the Region of Valencia. The accumulated total number of inbound tourists between January and May is the highest on record since 2008, when the all-time high was set for this period.

Main emitting markets

The United Kingdom made the largest contribution to the increase in the number of inbound tourists visiting Spain in May, the Balearic Islands being their top destination. A total of 1,565,759 British tourists came to Spain in May 2013, which is an increase of 9.3% on the same month in 2012. Since January, the increase when compared with last year stands at 4.4%, with a total of 4.48 million tourists.

The second largest contribution came from the German market, with an increase of 13.2% in May and a total of 999,711 tourists visiting Spain. The region most visited by German tourists in May was the Balearic Islands, while the largest increase was seen in Catalonia. A total of 3.2 million German tourists have visited Spain since the start of the year, an increase of 4.3% on the same period last year.

The number of French tourists rose by 5.9% in May to 809,838 – the seventh consecutive month of growth. The destination most visited by French tourists in Spain was Catalonia, while the largest increases were seen in the Region of Valencia and in Madrid. Spain was visited by three million French tourists between January and May, a year-on-year increase of 7.5%.

Tourists from the Nordic countries again posted strong growth (up 20.2%), thus continuing a 13-month long upturn. Almost 400,000 Nordic tourists visited Spain in May, whose preferred destination was the Balearic Islands. This market has now grown by 13.8% since January and exceeds 1.8 million tourists.

The arrival of tourists from the Netherlands rose by 6.8%, while the accumulated total for this market shows stability when compared with last year (up 0.3%).

However, the number of tourists arriving from Italy fell by 16.4% to a total of 249,279. The downward trend that began at the start of the year continues and the accumulated decline now stands at 14.6% when compared with the same period in 2012.

Main destination autonomous regions

Catalonia was the leading tourist destination in May 2013 with 1.5 million tourists visiting the region (up 6.3%). In May, this region accounted for 26% of all tourists visiting Spain, with France being its main emitting market. Since January, five million inbound tourists have visited Catalonia, an increase of 5.4%.

The second most popular Spanish destination in May was the Balearic Islands, with 1,364,626 tourists, accounting for 23.6% of the total (up 13.2%). 70% of these tourists came from Germany and the United Kingdom, with growth in both markets of approximately 11%. In the accumulated total for 2013, the Balearic Islands have been visited by more than 2.5 million tourists and have posted growth of 11.5% on 2012.

Andalusia recorded a total of 780,668 inbound tourists in May, an increase of 5.7%. The main emitting markets were the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom. The total since January stands at 2.6 million, with growth of 2.2%.

With 690,500 tourists, the Canary Islands posted growth of 8.5% in terms of inbound tourists visiting in May, with Britain being the largest emitting market. The Canary Islands have been visited by 4.2 million tourists so far this year, which is practically the same figure as posted in the same period last year (up 0.2%).

The number of tourists visiting the Region of Valencia rose by 17.4% in May to 588,992 (10.2% of the total) in the seventh consecutive month of growth. Since the start of the year, the region has been visited by 1.9 million inbound tourists (up 15.6%).

The Autonomous Region of Madrid posted a decline of 8.6% in terms of inbound tourists, partly caused by the drop in the number of Italian tourists. 436,000 tourists visited the region in May and 1.7 million to date this year (down 3.2%).

Form of travel, accommodation and type of holiday

Both the number of tourists arriving by air and the number arriving by road increased in May: up 8.2% and up 4.9%, respectively. Both forms of travel also show growth in the accumulated figures for the year: 4.3% and 4.8%, respectively.

Although hotel accommodation was the most popular form of accommodation (66.6% of the total), there was a 24% increase in the use of all forms of non-hotel accommodation in May. The same trend can be seen in the accumulated figures for the year to date, with non-hotel accommodation growing by 10.4%.

71.2% of tourists who visited Spain in May travelled independently, an increase of 14.3%. In contrast, the number of tourists who travelled on a package holiday fell by 6.4%. Between January and May, the number of independent travellers rose by 7.9% while the number who booked a package holiday fell by 4.6%.