Tourists continue to flock to Spain as other once favoured destinations are avoided due to continuing security fears.
February saw 3.7 million international tourists travel to Spain representing a 13.7% increase over the same period in the previous year, according to data released by the National Statistics Institute.
British tourists came in the largest numbers, once again, accounting for 22% (806,835) of the total arrivals during February. This representas an increase of 17.1% when compared to February 2015.
French and German tourists were the second largest groups with 529,716 and 481,219, respectively. French travellers increased by 8.5% on the annual rate, while Germans increased by 7.4%.
The UK, France and Germany have long been the largest source of tourists for Spain but this year has seen increases in numbers from other countries too. Traveller numbers from Russia have increased substantially showing a 19.8% gain, when compared to Feb 2015. American traveller numbers increased by 18.4% while the number of tourists from Ireland grew by 17.3% during February.
The Canary Islands proved to be the most popular area attracting 30.3% of the total travellers. This was followed by Catalonia with 25.3% of the total, while Andalucia accounted for 13.4%.
The Canary Islands saw a 10.5% increase, when compared to the same period in 2015, rising to 1,114,737 tourists. The majority came from the UK with 31.9% of the total, while Nordic countries accounted for 22.3%.
The number of tourists visiting Catalonia during February increased by 13% over the same month in 2015, to over 930,000, while Andalucia saw annual growth of 14.3%, representing almost half a million tourists.
The Balearic Islands saw phenomenal growth for February with an annual increase of 42.1%. This has been put down, in part, to increased supply of accommodation. Valencia saw an increase of 24.4% whle Madrid saw gains of 12% over 2015.
Where, Why, and How long?
Hotel stays increased by 16.3% during February while the numbers renting a private property for their stay fell by 2.1% on the annual rate.
The number of tourists staying with friends or family rose by 13.6%.
The main reason stated by travellers for the visit was leisure, recreation and holidays, accounting for 2,814,038. This represents annual growth of 7.3%.
Business travellers represented 439,747 visitors during February, a huge 45.4% increase, while 37.4% of travellers stated “other” as their reason for travelling.
The number of travellers that stayed for between four and seven nights increased 17.1% to 1.8 million, while 681,851 travellers stayed for between eight and 15 nights. Long stay travellers (more than 15 nights) increased by 6.5% on the annual rate to 275,876.
Semana Santa (Easter) came early this year and has just passed. It was very, very busy with unusally hot weather for this time of year adding to the madness. Marbella and Puerto Banus were chaotic! The roads were jammed, parking was scarce and the beaches were full. I look forward to seeing the offical figures for March and expect them to be high!
If the trends of the first few months continue then 2016 is going to be a great year for tourism!