August tourist figures: the best on record

Industry complains that growing numbers of visitors are staying in unlicensed apartments, not hotels

The packed beach at Benidorm.
The packed beach at Benidorm.PEPE OLIVARES

Spain smashed its own tourism records this summer. A total of 9.1 million visitors spent at least one night in the country this August, a 8.8-percent rise from the same month last year, according to Industry Ministry figures.

The sun-and-sand formula continues to drive Spain’s economic recovery despite the facts that the hotel and restaurant industry creates mostly temporary jobs and that visitors are increasingly turning to rental apartments over traditional hotels.

Vacation home rentals grew 29.7 percent in August, compared with a four-percent rise in visitors who stayed in their own holiday homes or with friends and relatives.

Meanwhile, 53.7 percent of visitors stayed at hotels, compared with 56 percent in August 2013. Tourists who found alternative accommodation represented 46.3 percent of the total, a rise from previous years.

British, French and German nationals continue to represent the majority of tourists

This trend is being used by industry leaders to shed some negative light on to otherwise highly positive news.

“We are not complacent because you shouldn’t look at how many people walk into a supermarket, but rather at how much they spend on average, and our rates have not recovered; besides, more people are staying at unlicensed apartments,” complained José Luis Zoreda of Exceltur, an association of major tourism businesses in Spain.

Zoreda also noted that the record figures in August are tied up with the fact that demand was slow in July because of the World Cup in Brazil.

In spite of all that, accumulated tourist figures between January and August have risen 7.3 percent to reach 45.4 million people. Catalonia, the Balearics and the Canary Islands are the top tourist destinations and welcomed six out of every 10 visitors last month, according to the Industry Ministry.

British, French and German nationals continue to represent the majority of tourists heading to Spain’s coasts.

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