Tourists on La Concha beach in San Sebastian. EFE
These are the three regions in Spain that have seen the most tourism growth this summer

These are the three regions in Spain that have seen the most tourism growth this summer

According to the latest data, tourism will earn a total of 183 billion euros for the Spanish economy this year, some 16.3% above the 2019 pre-pandemic figure

Edurne Martínez


Thursday, 12 October 2023, 08:00

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The big tourism winners in Spain this summer have been the destinations in the north of the mainland. The Cantabrian coast has experienced an average growth of more than 25%, according to figures presented on Tuesday by the national Exceltur tourism sector employers' association, which highlighted that this is due to the fact that they are less exposed to heat waves.

The Basque Country was the region that increased its sales the most compared to the summer of 2019, before the pandemic, with figures of 27.4% higher than that year. It is followed by Galicia, up 27%, and Asturias (26%). Cantabria also stands out within this group with a rise of 15.6% above the 2019 figures, according to data presented by Exceltur.

Destinations with the most tourist arrivals

The employers' association noted that the destinations with the most tourist arrivals have once again been the classics: the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Valencia and Catalonia. But it highlighted the particularly positive balance of the northern regions compared to the tourism data they presented in the same period of 2019, due to the arrival not only of national tourists, but also of many more foreigners than before the pandemic.

With the good data from the third quarter, Exceltur calculates that the year will end better than expected for the sector. Tourism will earn a total of 183 billion euros this year, 16.3% above 2019. If this forecast is confirmed, tourism would consolidate the recovery path initiated in 2022 and would enable the sector's contribution to the Spanish economy to return to pre-crisis levels, with a final contribution to GDP of 12.6%.

Higher costs

The summer has accelerated the positive evolution of tourism activity in Spain with a growth of 17.3% compared to 2019, largely due to the inflationary context and the strength of demand. However, eliminating the increase in prices, tourism GDP barely rose by 2.4% compared to the pre-pandemic summer. As a result, business owners recognise that margins are difficult to increase, with wage costs already almost 20% higher than in 2021, fuel prices almost 40% higher and electricity and gas 26% higher.


One of the highlights is the creation of employment in the sector, which closed September with 134,000 more workers than in the same month of 2019 and 102,000 more than a year ago. The sector has also seen more stable hiring terms, with a temporary employment rate five per cent below the average for the economy (8%), when before the Labour Reform it exceeded 35%.

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