Monthly tourism statistics from the government have shown that the number of foreign tourists who arrived in Andalucía in February was down 0.3 per cent on the same month last year. This is the first fall in international arrivals after 33 months of constant increases.
The data contrasts with the good news stories of the last two years. In February 2017, the number of international visitors to Andalucía increased by 18.7 per cent, and in February 2016 by 17.4 per cent.
The number of tourists had been increasing since April 2015 until last month. The data, published on Wednesday, also showed that tourism to other parts of Spain is still increasing. Some 4.2 million people visited Spain in February of this year, an increase of 2.6 per cent relative to the previous year. Of those, 582,686 chose to visit Andalucía.
The region is the third most popular in Spain, after the Canary Islands, which gained 0.8 per cent more visitors, and Catalonia, which saw an increase of 2.8 per cent.
Decline in UK visitors
The tourism industry has highlighted the impact of a fall back in the British market, on which Andalucía is highly dependent. The report shows that the UK, which accounts for 20 per cent of all tourists to Spain and over 30 per cent in Andalucía, sent 5.9 per cent fewer tourists to Spain in February compared to the previous year. This figure confirms a trend. In the two previous months, tourism from Britain fell by a total of 3.1 per cent, with around 1.7 million visitors in total.
Research from Exceltur and Cehat has shown that other Mediterranean countries, such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia are winning over British tourists, who are also affected by the weak exchange rate between the pound and the euro.
Recently, the Tunisian government announced that the tourism sector in Tunisia had grown by 25% compared to 2017.