Air transport and tourism

Spain received 81.8 million international tourists in 2017, 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 second in tourist spending and second in total number of tourists. Over 80% of Spain's tourists arrive by plane.

In 2017, Spain received 81.8 million international tourists, 6.2 million more than the prior year (8.6% year-on-year variation), setting a record for the fifth year in a row.

Of these 81.8 million tourists, over half came from three source markets: the UK, with over 18.7 million; France, with 11.2 million and Germany with 11.9 million.

Airports are the main gateway for tourists visiting Spain. More than 66.6 million (81.5%) used an aircraft as their means of transport, 15.7% travelled by road and less than 3% used other types of transport1.

2017 comparative data

Spain ranked second world-wide in international tourist arrivals in 2017, behind only France, and followed by the USA, China, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany, and Thailand. 2

ARRIVAL OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS
Country Millions Variation (%)
2016 2017 2016 2017
France 82.7 86.9 -2.1 5.1
Spain 75.6 81.8 10.5 8.6
USA * 75.9 -- -2.1 -3.8
China 59.3 60.7 4.2 2.5
Italy 52.4 58.3 3.2 11.2
Mexico 35.0 39.3 9.3 12.0
United Kingdom 35.8 37. 4.0 5.1
Turkey 30.3 37.6 -23.3 24.1
Germany 35.6 37.5 1.8 5.2
Thailand 32.6 35.4 8.9 8.6

Source: World Tourism Organization

* There is no data for he USA refers to 2017. The growth rate refers to the first 9 months of 2017 only as data for full year is not yet available.

Our country is also second in the world and first in Europe in international tourism revenue, with a total revenue of over 68 billion USD. With regard to this statistic, Spain is only behind the USA, which surpassed 210 billion. Behind Spain are France, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Germany, Macao and Japan.

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 (%)
2016 2017 2016 2017
USA 206.9 210.7 0.3 1.9
Spain 60.5 68.0 6.9 10.1
France 54.5 60.7 -5.3 9.0
Thailand 48.8 57.5 11.0 13.1
United Kingdom 47.9 51.2 -12.9 12.1
Italy 40.2 44.2 2.0 7.7
Australia 37.0 41.7 12.3 9.3
Germany 37.4 39.8 -1.4 4.2
Macao (China) 30.4 35.6 -1.9 17.6
Japan 30.7 34.1 22.8 14.4

Source: World Tourism Organisation

* US Dollars

 

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: UNWTO Tourism Highlights, 2018 Edition.