Analysis by air travel intelligence leader ForwardKeys indicates a busy summer ahead for Spain, despite protests against overtourism in some of the country’s most popular destinations.

International arrivals to Spain in July and August this year are up +12% compared to the equivalent period in 2023 — with significant growth from European origin markets Italy (+53%), Austria (+23%) and the Netherlands (+23%) as well as transatlantic arrivals from Brazil (+39%) and the USA (+31%).

Shorter stays show faster growth, long stays retain largest share

Couples have the largest share of all travel group sizes, and show a 13% growth, just above the average. Short (+16%) and medium (+15%) stays see growth in popularity over 2023, perhaps representing continued caution over travel spending in a challenging economic climate. Long-stay trips, which still represent the largest share, are growing at a slower rate of 5%. Business trips are up by +3%, while leisure trips, which account for the largest share of travel, are growing at +15%.

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Demand increases to Balearics and Canaries amid over-tourism concerns

Spain’s islands and major cities are the most popular destinations, even as over-tourism has become a pressing issue in Barcelona (+18%) and the islands of Menorca (+51%), Lanzarote (+10%) Mallorca (+6%) among others. Recent protests in these locations have highlighted residents’ concerns, with calls to limit tourist numbers due to rising living costs and environmental strain, however, the data indicates that tourism growth has so far remained unaffected.

Asia Pacific reactivation drives growth in long-haul arrivals

Long-haul arrivals to Spain are up +20%, largely driven by the resurgence of Asia-Pacific markets including China (+134%) and Japan (+58%). These strong increases result from significantly expanded airline capacity and the easing of travel visa requirements — activating pent-up demand for travel to European destinations.

Low-cost carriers boost UK-Spain connectivity

Scheduled seat capacity for flights into Spain is dominated by the U.K. market, which shows growth of +8% over 2023, with increased capacity from key low-cost carriers including Ryanair (+5%), (+9%) and EasyJet (+8%).

“Sun and Beach” airports show impressive growth over 2023

Madrid–Barajas (MAD) is the top airport in terms of seat capacity for international flights in summer 2024, and sees growth of (+12%) over the previous year — attributable to its status as a global hub, and attractiveness to both leisure and business travellers.

However, Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernández (ALC), while fifth in terms of overall capacity, shows the largest year-on-year growth at +18%. Viewed alongside increases at Palma de Mallorca (PMI, +9%) and Málaga-Costa del Sol (AGP, +11%) this underlines the continued importance of sun and beach destinations to tourism in Spain.

“Spain, like many globally popular destinations, is facing a challenge — balancing the needs of local populations negatively affected by high levels of tourism with the necessity to maintain the economic benefits that visitors bring to the country. The key is in smart management of visitor flows — looking ahead to anticipate travel trends, and adapting tourism marketing strategies to more equally spread demand — across more destinations, and across a larger proportion of the year. Destinations able to leverage travel intelligence in this way will be better positioned to sustain a tourism model that serves locals and visitors alike.”

Olivier Ponti
Director of Intelligence & Marketing

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2024-07-15T15:55:14+02:0011/07/2024|All, DMO|
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