Spain bounces back

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4 May 2011

Spain bounces back

According to a recent report from Wharton University, “Beyond Beaches: Spanish Tourism makes a Comeback” –…, latest sample figures for 2010 show that tourists are returning to Spain after 2 bad years. 2010 recorded the first increase in tourism numbers since 2007. According to the Ministry of Tourism, foreign visitor numbers were at a peak of 59.2 million in 2007 and then fell in 2008 by 2.3% and a further 8.7% in 2009


There must therefore have been a discernible sigh of relief at the Ministry when it was discovered that tourism figures had risen 1% to 52.6 million last year. According to Senor Lopez de Avilla of the IE Business School’s master’s program for tourism management, this small but significant rise is due to the recovery in the major markets where the tourists come from ie UK 12.5 million and Germany 8.8 million. Other significant European countries sending tourists to Spain are Italy, the Nordic countries and France.


Another interesting statistic is that tourism contributed euro 49.14 billion to the Spanish economy in 2010, up 2.5% on 2009 with the typical tourist spending on average euro 930 during their stay, which is an interesting comparison with RDO’s last survey of the average spend by timeshare owners of some euro 1331 (‘The European Timeshare Industry 2008’, a report compiled by the University of Nottingham’s Travel Research Institute on RDO’s behalf). Whilst admittedly this was for the whole of Europe, with Spain still the number one timeshare destination in Europe, it seems to remain a fact that timeshare owners spend more than the average tourist on holiday. This will become an increasingly important statistic if we continue to see the growing trend back to all inclusive holidays – which seems to be the case, at least in the UK, if recent announcements from the major package holiday companies are anything to go by. If the all inclusive holiday is back, then local economies could well see a drop off in local spending by tourists as the package holidays include ancillary spends?


That good news on tourism numbers does however need to be tempered with the revelation from the World Tourism Organisation that Spain had slipped to No.4 in most popular tourist destinations, behind France, USA and China in that order – previously it had slipped from 2 to 3 behind the USA.


The reasons for this decline? According to the Wharton article, there are a variety of reasons for this decline, ranging from a drop in the attractiveness of beach resorts as first class beach resorts in Spain become over-used (according to Professor Valls of ESADE) to the growth in the attractiveness of city breaks and the generally poor internet presence of Spanish companies.
However it is not all bad news. Snr Lopez de Avilla points out that the industry has started to fight back in Spain by diversifying its products, offering different experiences in the different regions and areas eg gastronomic, outdoor, boating and cultural activities in different regions of this vast and beautiful country. He also points to the safety of Spanish destinations and the quality of the country’s health service, both important considerations to tourists these days and aspects that have been referred to as important to timeshare owners in previous blogs.


RDO is also ahead of the curve and recognises the importance of diversification. It is intending to organise research into what the next generation of 30/40 somethings are looking for in their timeshare holidays over the next decade and hopefully this report will be available to members in 2011.

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