July shatters tourism records in Spain

There were 9.6 million visitors last month, beating previous all-time high set in August 2015

Cristina Delgado
Thousands of tourists packing Levante beach in Benidorm
Thousands of tourists packing Levante beach in BenidormManuel Lorenzo (EFE)

July 2016 has shattered all tourist records in Spain. Never before had so many foreigners – 9.6 million – visited the country in a single month.

The figure represents a 9.1% rise from July 2015, which was already a bumper year for tourism. And it is higher than the previous record for monthly foreign visitors, which was set in August of last year.

Despite the Brexit vote and a weaker pound, British citizens continue to make up the bulk of foreign tourists to Spain, with 2.2 million arriving in July, a 11.4% rise from the same period last year.

Return of the travel package

A trend that had been dying out is making a comeback: the vacation package. Although a majority of tourists still prefer to book their accommodation, vehicles and meals separately, last month 3.1 million people opted for a package, representing a 30% rise from July 2015.

Between January and July, travel packages grew 18.6%.

They were followed by France, which contributed 1.5 million visitors last month, a 13.8% rise from July 2015. Germany came in a close third with 1.27 million tourists.

Instability in other Mediterranean beach destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia have benefited Spain, which is attracting part of the tourism that once headed to those countries.

And given that August is typically the best month for tourism, experts are forecasting a final tally of over 10 million visitors this month.

Last year saw a record 68 million tourists, but the way things are going, that figure will very likely be broken this year, with experts predicting a figure in excess of 70 million. There were 42.4 million visitors between January and July, an 11.1% increase from the same period last year. That is more than in an entire year during the late 1990s.

Broken down by regions, Catalonia was the main tourist destination in July, receiving one of every four foreign visitors. The Balearic Islands came in second with another quarter of the tourism pie.

English version by Susana Urra.

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