Tourist Numbers Increased 14% In February

Tourist numbers continue to rise
Tourist numbers continue to rise

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.

Tourist Destinations

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!

 

Semana Santa is Coming!

A typical Semana Santa Parade
A typical Semana Santa Parade

As Semana Santa looms, Costa del Sol residents are bracing themselves for the annual influx of tourists with this year predicted to bring larger numbers than 2015.

The season begins today and the airports are expecting over half a million tourists on over 3,000 flights scheduled to arrive from today until Monday 28th. The effects will be felt across the country as the entire transport network feels the pressure, from road to rail and from sea to sky.

Airlines have over half a million seats available on flights to and from Málaga with the busiest day set to be Sunday 27th when there are 354 flights due to land at Andalucia’s busiest airport. Monday 28th will also be a manic day with 323 flights due with a total of 54,814 booked seats.

Following last year’s successful season airlines have increased the number of available seats and the frequency of flights, despite this year’s festivities coming earlier. Usually when Easter is early fewer seats are available as the ski season is still active but this year airlines are ready for the extra travellers who may otherwise have visited Tunisia, Turkey or Egypt, locations that are seeing a huge drop in visitor numbers to due to security concerns.

Málaga’s roads are also expected to suffer under the strain of the visitors. Over half a million long-haul road journeys are expected to make your daily commute that little bit longer.

Accommodation

Hoteliers in the region are predicting a small increase in bookings of 2% compared to the same period last year with their busiest time being from Palm Sunday (20th) to Holy Saturday (26th) with an average occupation of 80%. The figure could increase due to last minute bookings but as always, this will depend on the weather. Of course, those of us who live here know all too well that Semana Santa usually guarantees at least a little rain!

Coastal hotels often notice a marked difference in bookings between the first week of the festival and the second with a first week occupancy of 75% rising to 86% in the second week.

Spring is also the time that the golf travellers begin to arrive in Spain, and as a result, you will find increases in prices of green fees on many courses. Also you may find you need to book in advance as some courses will also restrict daily player capacity. El Chaparral Golf in La Cala de Mijas, for example, has a maximum player capacity of 200 players per day on both Holy Tuesday and Holy Thursday.

Prepare!

Remember that the Semana Santa parades are a must-see and you can find one in most towns and cities. Holy effigies, holy dress, music and fun will fill the streets and although you may have to park miles away you should definitely see at least one parade if you can.

Expect to see traffic building up, queues getting longer, parking spaces becoming sparse and the beaches filling up (weather permitting) over the next few days and continuing for the next two weeks. Remember that once it’s over the tourists go home and the coast is ours once more. Well, until the summer season begins anyway.

Of course, the regions businesses will receive a well needed financial injection over the holidays so despite how busy it can be we should be grateful that so many tourists choose the Costa del Sol for their Easter getway.

Andalucia Sets its Sights on Scottish Golfers

Royal Valderrama Golf
Royal Valderrama Golf Course

People don’t call the south coast the Costa del Golf for nothing! The sun-drenched coast is home to some of the world’s best and most popular golf courses and the sport attracts hundreds of thousands of players every year. Some of the most popular courses include San Roque, Sotogrande, the exclusive La Zagaleta, and the famous Royal Valderrama which will host the Spanish Open in April this year.

In light of this, later this week, the Andalucian Ministry of Tourism and Sports will attend The Scottish Golf Show, in Glasgow, to market Andalucia as the prime golf destination for tourists.

The show, which runs from March 18th to 20th, will give the Ministry the opportunity to promote the coasts many golf courses and facilities to Scottish travellers.

In 2015 the show featured a record number of exhibitors displaying their wares and promoting their courses to the public. In addition to the exhibitors the show featured the largest driving range of its kind in Scotland and a huge retail unit operated by American Golf. PGA professionals also attended the show giving away hundreds of free lessons and advice over the duration of the show. Almost 18,000 people attended and the organisers hope to see increased numbers this year.

Following last year’s show organiser Tom Lovering said “The Scottish Golf Show is comfortably the most successful consumer golf show in the UK and we are determined to maintain our position into next year and beyond.”

Andalucia is home to over a hundred golf courses and together they attracted over 450,000 visitors during 2014. This represented an increase of 1.3% over the previous year, and the highest annual growth in recent years. The cumulative growth of travellers with golf as the main motivation for travelling is over 7% since 2010.

Golfing travellers also contribute to the seasonal adjustment for tourists stays thanks to their average 11.9 days stay, almost three days above the average length of a visit to the region. Golfers also rank highly for average spend which increased 2.6% over 2014 to reach 88.43 Euros spend per day per person, almost 30 Euros above the average.

 

Airports Record Increase in Passengers

Following a great start to 2016 for tourism, February showed a continuation of the trend.

During February Andalucian airports reported a total of 1,243,314 passengers spread over 14,760 flights. The total for the first two months of the year increased 16.2% over the same period in 2015, standing at 2,374,543 passengers.

Málaga

Málaga - Andalucía's busiest airport
Málaga – Andalucía’s busiest airport

According to data released by AENA (Spanish Airports and Air Navigation) the busiest airport in the region, over the first two months of 2016, was Málaga which saw 1,527,221 passengers. This represents a 15.7% increase over the same period last year.

Málaga passengers were spread over 12,646 registered flights, also the highest number for the region. This was an 11.9% increase over the previous year.

According to the report Málaga Airport “continues on the path of growth with which it closed 2015,” recording a huge rise of 17.8% more passengers and 14.5% more flights in February 2016, compared to the same month last year.

Other Regional Airports

The airport with the second highest number was Seville with only 599,541 passengers. This is also an increase over the previous year representing a rise of 15.5%. Seville also registered a 3.3% increase in flight numbers with 6,355 recorded operations.

Federico García Lorca (Granada-Jaén) saw a 12% increase with 107,734 passengers passing through, while Almeria recorded 78,484 passengers, a massive increase of 35.4%.

Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) saw 60,137 passengers pass through, representing an increase of 21.3%, while Cordoba was the only Andalucian airport to report a decline in passenger numbers of -3.4% to only 876 travellers.

Passengers

The majority of travellers were on commercial flights, accounting for 790,747 of the total. The majority of those travellers were on international flights, a 16.8% increase over 2015.

Internal flights (between Spanish airports) accounted for 146,834 passengers which shows good growth for the domestic market representing a 21.7% increase, while the number of flights also increased with a 17.9% gain.

In terms of passenger origin, the UK remained the largest source of tourism sending 226,819 travellers to Spain during February, an increase of 17%.

Second was the Germans with 68,753 passengers while the Netherlands accounted for 46,908 travellers.

 

Andalucia To Woo French Travellers

The Salon Mondial du Tourisme de ParisContinuing the push for tourists in Andalucia, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is now on its way to the Porte de Versailles, in the French capital, to take part in the Salon Mondial du Tourisme.

Following a successful trade fair in Berlin with the aim of attracting more German travellers to the region, the Ministry has now turned its attention to the French.

There will be several displays under the section “Turespaña” which it is hoped will attract many potential travellers, as well as business contacts eager to trade in the Spanish region.

The Ministry will attend in order to showcase the attractions of Andalucia with the simple aim of increasing tourism from France, which is currently the second largest source of travellers to the region.

During 2015 Andalucian hotels recorded 803,040 travellers from France which was 11.2% more than in the previous year. Total overnight stays from French travellers recorded in 2015 increased by a huge 18.6% with over 2.4 million overnight stays recorded.

The Salon Mondial du Tourisme de Paris will run from March 17th – 20th and is considered to be one of the most important trade shows for reaching the French market. In 2015 the show received over 100,000 visitors and just short of 2,000 exhibitors.

 

Increase in German Visitors Expected

President of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz
Junta de Andalucía President, Susana Díaz

The world’s leading travel trade show took place in Berlin over the weekend and President of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, was there on the opening day.

Díaz is reportedly “delighted” at the prospects for German tourism in Andalucia this coming summer following a very successful show.

In 2015 the number of German tourists visiting the region increased by almost 5% and this trend appears to be continuing as there has been a 12% increase in bookings compared to the same time last year.

Increased Demand

Over 1.2 million tourists arrived in Andalucia from Germany in 2015, a 4.8% increase over 2014. These visitors accounted for 800,721 hotel nights representing a 3.1% increase. The total of overnight stays by German tourists was a massive 3.8 million. This was a rise of only 0.6%; a small yet significant increase. The average length of a visit was 11.3 days, which is slightly over the Spanish average of nine days.

Two major tour operators, FTI and TSS Group, have both indicated that they have increased their capacity for Spain because they have seen a growth in demand.

Despite the numbers suggesting a good year, Díaz pointed out that the German market had not performed as well as expected in 2015, either in Spain as a whole, or in destinations such as the Costa del Sol and Malaga city, despite up to one third of German tourists visiting those areas. She added that Andalucia was keen to see an increase in German arrivals as they are the third nationality in terms of holiday spend.

“We have come to the ITB with two things in mind: to discover new trends and products which are popular with German tourists and to promote Andalucía as a holiday destination par excellence. We offer a very extensive variety of different facilities and this is what visitors require, so we have the potential for enormous growth,” Díaz said.

According to Díaz, German tourists are loyal to Andalucia and many return to the region year after year. “I am convinced that the figures this year will be higher than last year. Germany is a great ally in terms of tourism and a key market towards our aim of achieving 30 million tourists during this legislature,” she added.

Improved Connections

As a means of ensuring the arrival of more Germans this year Díaz explained that work is required to improve air connections between the countries as this is currently the “Achilles heel in this market” adding that there is a need for extra direct flights from German airports to Malaga, Seville and Almeria.

As a results of security scares and terror threats in other popular tourist destinations, including Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, Andalucia plans to try and make the most of the extra interest in Spain. There has been a reported 40% drop in bookings to those areas. Díaz announced that they plan to invest 2 million euros to promote the area to capitalise on this with up to 50 promotional activities with a big push for Andalucian beaches, golf, health and cruises saying “We want the figures, which are already good, to become extraordinary,”.

Andalucia Promoted in Madrid

The Andalucian Ministry of Tourism and Sport has been in Madrid to promote Andalucia as a tourist spot for internal travellers.

The conference, attended by some 500 travel agents, aimed to promote the southern region to the domestic market which is the main source of tourism. More than 9.3 million domestic travellers visited Andalucia in 2015, a 4.4% increase over the previous year. Together they amassed 23.6 million overnight stays, an increase of 3.5% over 2014.

Madrid is a prime choice for this type of event as Andalucia is a first-choice destination for Madrileños (people from Madrid), second only to itself. Last year the south coast was visited by 1.4 million travellers from Madrid who accounted for 4.1 million overnight stays, increases of 4% and 3.1% respectively.

The ministry was joined by officials from the eight provincial boards and representatives from around 60 Andalucian businesses eager to promote themselves alongside the region. The aim of the meeting was to impart knowledge of the region and it’s attractions as well as to create business ties between the two areas.

Ornithological Tourism

Monfragüe National Park
Monfragüe National Park

The Ministry also attended the FIO (International Tourism Fair Ornithological) over the previous weekend which was held in the Natural Park of Monfragüe, Cáceres. The aim of this fair was to promote the area as a tourism spot for nature lovers and bird watchers. This is an increasing segment of tourism attracting 13,000 visitors last year

Andalucia has around 150 protected areas covering a total of 3.3 million hectares. Within those there are 60 Special Protection Areas (SPA) and 190 Sites of Community Interest (SCI). Together the areas protect around 300 species of animals and birds.

According to the Ministry, ornithological tourists are characterised by long stays and high average expenditure, with the average stay being 7 days and average daily spend of just over €1,000 per person.

 

Housing Price Index (HPI) – Q4 2015

At the closing of the fourth quarter, the annual variation of the HPI decreased three tenths to 4.2%

In terms of the type of housing, the rate actually increased 1 point for new property to 5.8%, while the annual variation for resale property dropped half of one point to end the year at 4.0%.

What this means for house prices is that new home prices rose by 1.3% above the base. For resale properties prices fell by 0.3%.

When looking at annual variation by autonomous community most regions saw a decline. The largest decrease was recorded in Cantabria which fell 2.8 points to finish the year at 2.0%, while Asturias saw a drop of 2.2 points to end at 1.3%. Andalucia also registered a decline dropping 1.4 points to finish at 3.0%

The region with that registered the largest increase was Valencia whose rate increase nine tenths to 3.0% and the Basque Country which saw an increase of seven tenths, to 1.7%.

Once again, when looking at the quarterly variation most regions saw a negative figure. The largest decline was seen in Asturias which recorded a 2.5% fall, followed closely by Cantabria and Galicia which both recorded variations of -1.4%. The highest quarterly rates were records in Basque Country and La Rioja with both at +0.7%. Andalucia recorded a small drop of seven tenths.

House Price Index Q4 2016, Spain

 

2015 Saw A Rise in Spanish Property Sales

INEAs mentioned in a previous article, 2015 saw record numbers of tourists hitting the beaches and towns around Spain. The tourists, however, are not the only ones still hitting Spain in large numbers; the figures for 2015 property transfers also show an increase hinting that buyer confidence is on the increase and property sales are once again on the up.

In the annual figures released by the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas) Spain registered a 4.6% increase in property transfers for the year 2015, over the previous year, with a total of 1,634,670 transfers.

This breaks down as follows:

  • 378,630 Rustic Properties
  • 716,835 Urban Dwellings
  • 69,457 Urban Plots
  • 469,748 Other Urban Properties

Of the total property transfers 753.598 were from purchases, representing an increase of 8.1% over the previous year.

In terms of the type of property purchased, 83.2% corresponded to urban properties, an increase of 8.4%, and 16.8% to rustic property, an increase of 6.5%.

Of the total, 22% of property sales were for new buildings while resale properties made up the remaining 78%. For new homes this represents a decrease of 33.7%, while used property sales increased by 37.2%, compared to 2014.

By Region

As expected, Andalucia leads the way in terms of numbers registering 272,000 property transfers in 2015, an increase of 8.7% over 2014. They were followed close behind by Cataluña with 229,463 (a 3.25% increase) and Valencia with 209,819 sales, an increase of 4.2% over 2014.

The only region to record a negative annual variation was Castilla – La Mancha, which recorded only 103,776 transfers of deed, a variation of -0.8% compared to 2014.

The largest gain was in La Rioja, which, while only registering 20,015 transfers, achieved an increase over 2014 of 18%.

When looking at total propertiers sold the winning region was País Vasco with 13,770 sales which represents a massive 17.2% increase over 2014. On this measure Andalucia still did very well registering 70,739 sales, a 10.6% increase, while Cataluña and Valencia also did well recording increases of 14% and 11.3% respectively.

You can see the full report here.

More positive indicators for the Costa del Sol

Marbella is not the only large town to be influenced by the huge influx of tourists in 2014. With an estimated 10 billion euros being created in 2014 across Andalucia other councils are also making improvements which is great news for the construction industry.

The influx of tourism to Marbella this year has been so impressive that the town has been added to the small list of areas that is permitted to now start opening shops on Sundays, which is not only great news for the local residents but also for tourists.

In light of the pending local elections which are less than a year away now, one of the most eagerly anticipated projects of this year is due to start after the Summer in Estepona. The so-called Grand Boulevard is a major project which will transform Estepona and the surrounding area and will consist of a new shopping centre, more tourism related attractions and a new recreational centre. This privately funded project has a price tag of 30 million Euros, with the local council also financing a multi-millon euro botanical park boasting the biggest orchid collection in Europe.

Elsewhere on the Costa del Sol there is due to be other development of museums, tourist attractions, theatres, and infrastructure in Velez Malaga, Malaga City, Benalmádena, Mijas (old town), Rincón de la Victoria, Alharurin del Grande, Cartama and Fuengirola. Not only will all of the projects across all of these areas on the Costa del Sol bring in more tourists, but it will boost the economy and reduce unemployment greatly.