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.

2016 comparative data

Spain ranked thrid world-wide in international tourist arrivals in 2016, behind only France and the USA, and followed by China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey2.

ARRIVAL OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS
Country Millions Variation (%)
2014 2015 2014 2015
France 84.5 82.6 0.9 -2.2
USA 77.5 75.6 3.3 -2.4
Spain 68.5 75.6 5.5 10.3
China 56.9 59.3 2.3 4.2
Italy 50.7 52.4 4.4 3.2
United Kingdom 34.4 35.8 5.6 4.0
Germany 35.0 35.6 6.0 1.7
Mexico 32.1 35.0 9.4 8.9
Thailand 29.9 32.6 20.6 8.9
Turkey 39.5 -- -0.8 --
Source: World Tourism Organization

Our country is also second in the world and first in Europe in international tourism revenue, with a total revenue of over 60.3 billion USD. With regard to this statistic, Spain is only behind the USA, which surpassed 205 billion. Behind Spain are Thailand, China, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong and Australia.

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 205.4 205.9 7.0 0.3
Spain 56.5 60.3 -13.3 6.9
Thailand 44.9 49.9 16.9 11.0
China 45.0 44.4 2.1 -1.2
France 44.9 42.5 -22.9 -5.3
Italy 39.4 40.2 -13.3 2.0
United Kingdom 45.5 39.6 -2.3 -12.9
Germany 36.9 37.4 -14.8 1.4
Hong Kong (China) 36.2 32.9 -5.8 -9.1
Australia 28.9 32.4 -8.2 12.3
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.