TOURISM

Russians lend ailing Spanish economy a helping hand

Number of big-spending visitors doubles in two years

Russian tourists chill out on the beach in Vila Joiosa in the province of Alicante.
Russian tourists chill out on the beach in Vila Joiosa in the province of Alicante.JOAQUÍN DE HARO

Russian tourists continued to flock in droves in October to enjoy what Spain has to offer, confirming what has become an increasingly attractive market for a key industry.

According to figures released Thursday by the Industry, Tourism and Energy Ministry, the number of Russian visitors to Spain last month climbed 61.3 percent from a year earlier to 75,749 and were up 41.3 percent in the first 10 months of the year at 1.128 million. The ministry said the size of the Russian market for the Spanish tourist sector has doubled in the past two years.

Total tourist arrivals in the month were up 3.2 percent at 5.1 million and climbed 3.1 percent in the period January-October to 52.053 million.

Spain is now the third-most-popular vacation destination for Russians, who also tend to be big spenders. According to the department of the secretary of state for tourism, Russian visitors in the first nine months of this year spent a total of 1.331 billion euros. Average spending per Russian visitor in the period was 1,500 euros, 50 percent more than the overall average.

Russian visitors in the first nine months of this year spent a total of 1.331 billion euros

Russians last year bought 41,000 homes in Spain at a total value of 1.2 billion euros. The government earlier this week announced that it is planning to change the Alien Law to allow people from non-European Union states such as Russia and China to be granted temporary residence permits if they acquire a home in Spain valued at over 160,000 euros.

Britain remains Spain’s principal tourist market, accounting for 12.5 million visitors in the first 10 months of the year, a figure that was barely changed from the same period a year earlier.

According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), overnight stays in Spanish hotels in October fell 3.6 percent from a year earlier to 23.9 million. Average revenue per room was 67.9 million euros.

Tourism accounts for around 11 percent of Spain’s GDP and a similar percentage of jobs. It is also a valuable source of overseas income. Spain is aiming to post a current account surplus next year after running the second-biggest deficit in the world before the current crisis began in 2008.

Rules
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS