The international tourism fair, Fitur, taking place this week in Madrid, has seen more landmark figures for visitors to Spain announced. Regional president Susana Díaz opened the Andalucía section, the largest at the exhibition, with good news.
As expected 2017 has been the region's best year yet in terms of tourism numbers. While the official figure for December has yet to be released, it is likely that the region received more than 29.5 million visitors last year, 5% up on the previous year.
Looking ahead, Díaz announced that Andalucía will reach its 30-million tourist target set for 2020 two years early, in 2018. This requires no more than a 4.5% increase on 2017.
“Last year on this first day of Fitur we predicted a 5% increase, which proves that we are going in the right direction,” said Díaz, who added that all eight Andalusian provinces had seen a growth in tourists as well as an increase in visitors all year round, and not just in peak holiday season.
Díaz also said that in 2017 tourism income had increased along with the visitor numbers. Tourists spent 20.4 billion euros in the region in 2017, 4.5% up on the previous year. The average spend per visitor per day also went up by 1.5 euros to 66.
The tourism industry contributed to increasing employment last year, added Díaz. “The sector has created 4.6% more jobs, above the average growth for Spain, but there is still a lot of work to do to achieve greater job stability and quality,” said the president.
The good news did come, however, with a word of caution. Díaz pointed out that the industry would be keeping a close eye on the behaviour of the British market, Andalucía's main international client, bearing in mind the uncertainty surrounding possible consequences of Brexit.
The other point to watch, said experts, is the recovery of rival destinations that had previously been avoided by tourists amid security concerns.