Last August, 10.2 million foreign tourists visited Spain, according to the Survey of Frontier Tourism Movements (Frontur) published on Tuesday by the INE. It is the second best month of August in history for the Spanish tourism sector, but the figure is 1.9% lower than that recorded in August last year. Thus, the strongest month of summer in Spain closes without record of visitors for the first time since the month of August 2011, when arrivals, which deflated in the middle of the crisis, had not yet exceeded the figures before the recession.
Since then, thanks to the recovery in the euro zone, the contained prices of Spain and the political instability of other competitors, year after year they have been happening historical maximums. Until the summer of 2018: arrivals figures are strong in August, but not record, by the recovery of competing Mediterranean destinations, such as Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt or Greece, cheaper, and the heat wave that affected Europe Central at the beginning of last summer that left many vacationers at home. Between both things they have ended by stopping the arrival of tourists to Spain.
'Sun and beach' competition
The data from August shows what the sector has been warning for some time: the recovery of Mediterranean countries that have borrowed tourists to Spain for their internal problems had to subtract public to the Spanish beaches. This has been the case this summer, a period in which, in addition, an unusual spell of high temperatures in June and July kept many Europeans in their countries longer than usual. Thus, both July and August have ended with decreases in the number of tourists arriving in Spain.
If we add the figures for June, July and August, this year 28.7 million tourists have arrived, 2% less. And in the accumulated of the year, and this year less foreigners have visited Spain than last year: 57.29 million against 57.34, 0.08% less, which suggests that the year will also close below the Last year's figures, 81.78 million tourists.
The decline in August is especially noticeable among the most important markets for Spanish tourism. The United Kingdom, origin of more than one in five of the foreign tourists that come to Spain, has sent 2.2 million this August, 3.7% less, while 1.3 million Germans have come, a 5.8% less. In fact, there is a general decline in European tourists: fewer Belgians, Dutch, Swiss, Nordic, Italian and Irish have come. On the opposite side, more French, Portuguese, Russian and US have come.
The emergence of other sun and beach destinations is especially noticeable when scrutinizing the results by communities. In August, the number of foreigners who visited several of the Spanish beach destinations par excellence fell. Thus, the Balearic Islands (which basically draws from the British and Germans) registered a decrease of 2%, up to 2.3 million, and Catalonia and the Canary Islands, by 5%, to 2.4 and 1.1 million, respectively. The three already accumulate declines so far this year. Although slightly, Andalucía and Comunidad Valenciana did win tourists in August. Madrid also registered a strong decrease in August: 5.7%, up to 0.5 million, although in the accumulated of the year it is still above last year.
Despite the "uncontrolled" strength of tourist apartments denounced by the tourism sector, hotels are, in addition to the type of accommodation preferred by foreign tourists (chosen by 6.3 of the 10.2 million), the only one of the which distinguishes the survey, together with the residual "non-market accommodation rest", which grows. It also shows positive figures so far this year: 36.1 million, 1.7% more.
The fall of the average stay that can be seen in hotel conjuncture data is also evident in Frontur. The number of hikers increases by 9%, those who do not spend the night; those who stay overnight stagnate; those who stay between 2 and 3 (6.6%) and those with longer stays (from 8 to 15 or more than 15) go down. Only those who stay for 4 to 7 nights (4.4%) increase.