In the first six months of the year, the number of visitors to Spain exceeded 36.3 million, showing continued double-digit growth in the tourist sector, with an increase of 11.6% over the same period of 2016. This is confirmed by the latest Survey of Tourist Movements published last week by Spanish statistics office, the INE.
Tourist numbers surged just before July and August, the two months that generate the most holiday demands, indicating a record summer that is set to surpass the 75.6 million foreign visitors registered in 2016.
The outlook seems to indicate that the number of foreign tourists has shown growth for each month in 2017 so far, compared to the data obtained last year. In June alone, visitor numbers increased by 11.64% with 8.4 million arrivals representing an increase of 800,000 on tourists recorded in June 2016.
The country that has contributed most to increase the number of foreign visitors is the United Kingdom, where about 8.6 million visitors originate. English visitors show an increase of 9.1% compared to the 2016, ahead of Germany with 5.4 million and France with 4.7 million, which recorded growth at 9.6% and 4.8%, respectively.
The community that leads international tourism in the first six months of the year is Catalonia, which after receiving 7.6 million foreign tourists in 2016 surpasses the 8 million barrier this year and stands at 8, 6 million. However, the largest percentage increase was achieved by Madrid, which recorded an increase in visits of almost 21% on last year, welcoming 3.3 million tourists in the first half of 2017.
The Canary Islands also broke records obtained during the first half of 2016 and obtain a 9.7% improvement in the number of foreign visitors, which stands at 6.9 million. The Balearic Islands reached 5.4 million tourists with an increase of 8.5% in the first six months of the year.
Air travel remains the preferred way for international tourists to enter Spain, an option that has recorded 12.6% growth compared to the first six months of 2016. Up to 30.4 million foreign travelers arrived by air in 2017, a figure that represents 83.8% of the total number of visitors recorded. Port access also registered an increase of more than 24% compared to 2016, with the number rising from 490,000 port arrivals last year to more than 600,000 in the first half of 2017.
Hotels dominate the market as the preferred option for foreign visitors to stay on vacation, with 83.8% opting for a hotel bed during the first half of 2017. However, rental housing experienced a significant increase after only managing a slight improvement of 3.7% in 2016.
In the first six months of this year, more than 4 million vacation rentals have been registered, a figure that places at 33.8% on the previous year. In Madrid, the increase of foreigners looking for holiday accommodation increased by a staggering 179.5% in May.