Concern in the tourist sector before a Brexit without agreement, but trust that a solution will be reached. This is the message that has been released on Thursday lobby Exceltur – which includes hotels, travel agencies and transport companies – at a press conference to present its 2018 balance sheet and its perspectives for 2019. Large companies have prepared contingency plans in case the United Kingdom does not reach an agreement with the European Union before March 29, the official date of the separation. Even so, the variables to be taken into account if this situation is reached are "unpredictable", said the director of studies and research of Exceltur, Óscar Pirelli. One of the petitions of this employers is that the Government has a national tourism emergency plan negotiated with Brussels and London to ensure connectivity between the island and Spanish destinations.
The fact that the United Kingdom is one of the main markets of the Spanish tourism sector is a source of uneasiness for the hoteliers, especially because a Brexit without agreement could suppose a devaluation of the pound and problems of air connections. Still, José Luis Zoreda, vice president of Exceltur, has reported a flood of data to show the growth and robustness of the sector. The activity reached 142 billion euros in 2018 (the highest amount in history, according to Zoreda), and its increase has experienced a normalization to reach 2%. "This is the first time since 2009 that tourism closes below the growth of the Spanish economy, which rose 2.5% ", explained the Exceltur executive, who stressed that the important thing is that foreign tourism revenues increased 3.3% with respect to the previous year. 2010 real spending rose by tourist, up to 0.8%.
However, visits and overnight stays (-3.4%) of foreign tourists lose strength in 2018 due to the recovery of competing Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. These territories earn 12.5 million tourists to the detriment of Spanish sun and beach destinations. The autonomous communities of the Mediterranean (Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, the Valencian Community, Catalonia and Murcia) have suffered a fall in foreign demand of 1.4%, while it has grown by 1.1% in the destinations of inland Spain. Castilla La-Mancha (+ 4.8%), Navarre (+ 3.6%), Madrid (+ 3.1%), Extremadura (+ 2.4%) and Aragón (+ 2.2%) exceeded that average .
The increased competition has affected the arrival of tourists from traditional markets such as Germany (4.7% visistas and 8.8% overnight stays), the United Kingdom (leaving 2% in tourists and 3.4%). % of overnight stays), Italy and France, showing a decrease in overnight stays of 3.4% and 1.4%, respectively. Spain altogether loses 21 million overnight stays and the average stay is reduced from 7.7 days in 2017 to 7.4 in 2018. Zoreda said that these falls have been compensated by an increase in long-distance tourists, who spend greater, thanks to the improvement of air connectivity. Business tourism also increased: travel grew by 4.9% and spending by 3.8%, despite the fact that overnight stays fell by 2.1%.
Exceltur expects that this year there will be an economic slowdown for the traditional markets of Spanish tourism, leaving aside the Brexit. In addition, he predicts that the competitors of the Eastern Mediterranean will continue recovering and removing tourists to Spain. But lobby Tourism also expects long-distance destinations such as the United States, Mexico and Brazil to continue boosting the sector's revenues in Spain.