Air transport and tourism

Spain received 75.6 million international tourists in 2016, a historical record.

Air transport and tourism in Spain

Air transport is crucial for tourism, a strategic cornerstone of our economy which makes a major contribution to wealth and employment. Spain is the world's top holiday destination, it is third in tourist spending and third in total number of tourists. Over 80% of Spain's tourists arrive by plane.

In 2016, Spain received 75.6 million international tourists, 7.7 million more than the prior year (10.3% year-on-year variation), setting a record for the fourth year in a row.

Of these 75.6 million tourists, over half came from three source markets: the UK, with over 17.8 million; France, with 11.4 million and Germany with 11.2 million.

The year-on-year growth in tourists from countries such as Canada, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Ireland was also remarkable.

Airports are the main gateway for tourists visiting Spain. More than 60.6 million (80.2%) used an aircraft as their means of transport, 17.2% travelled by road and less than 3% used other types of transport1.

2015 comparative data

Spain ranked third world-wide in international tourist arrivals in 2015, behind only France and the USA, and followed by China, Italy, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and the Russian Federation2.

ARRIVAL OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS
Country Millions Variation (%)
2014 2015 2014 2015
France 83.7 84.5 0.1 0.9
USA 75.0 77.5 7.2 3.3
Spain 64.9 68.2 7.0 5.0
China 55.6 56.9 -0.1 2.3
Italy 48.6 50.7 1.8 4.4
TURKEY 39.8 39.5 5.3 -0.8
Germany 33.0 35.0 4.6 6.0
United Kingdom 32.6 34.4 5.0 5.6
Mexico 29.3 32.1 21.5 9.4
Russian Federation 29.8 31.3 5.3 5.0
Source: World Tourism Organization

Our country is also third in the world and first in Europe in international tourism revenue, with a total revenue of over 56.5 billion USD. With regard to this statistic, Spain is only behind the USA and China, which surpassed 200 billion and 100 billion in revenue, respectively. Behind Spain are France, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong and Macao.

Tourism is a key sector for the Spanish economy, making up 11% of GDP and employing over 2 million people.

REVENUE FROM INTERNATIONAL TOURISM
Country Billions* Variation (%)
2014 2015 2014 2015
USA** 191.3 204.5 7.8 6.9
China** 105.4 114.1 -- 8.3
Spain 65.1 56.5 3.9 -13.2
France 58.1 45.9 2.8 -21.0
United Kingdom** 46.5 45.5 11.8 -2.3
Thailand 38.4 44.6 -8.0 16.0
Italy 45.5 39.4 3.6 -13.3
Germany 43.3 36.9 4.9 -14.9
Hong Kong (China) 38.4 36.2 -1.4 -5.8
Macao (China) 42.6 31.3 -1.1 -26.4
Source: World Tourism Organisation
* US Dollars
** The data from the USA, China, and UK for 2015 and prior years have varied due to a change in methodology.

 

Spain, world leader in tourism competitiveness

Spain leads the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index published for 136 countries by the World Economic Forum, ahead of France and Germany.

This Forum, which each year organises the Davos meeting, where the major world leaders in finance, politics, and civil society come together, attributes Spain's success to its natural and cultural resources and its excellent infrastructures and accommodations services.

tourism competitiveness index

1 Source: National Statistics Institute. Tourist Movement on Borders (Frontur).

2 Source: World Tourism Organization. 2015 Annual Report.