Number of British tourists in Spain falling

The devaluation of the pound leads to first fall in number of British tourists visiting Spain in 10 years

The significant fall in the value of the pound with respect to the value of the euro over the last 12 months coupled with the recession in the UK means that fewer British tourists visited the Costa Blanca in 2008 which is the first fall in 10 year. The fall in the number of British tourists visiting this part of Spain, estimated to be about 2.3%, compared to previous figures has alarmed the tourism sector in this region which has suffered one of its weakest winter seasons in a decade.

The Costa Blanca is not the only region of Spain to see falls in foreign tourism although paradoxically overall figures for foreigners visiting the region were up by 0.2% in 2008. The average fall in the number of foreign tourists visiting Spain was 2.6%. Catalonia recorded a fall of 6.7% and Andalucia a fall of 4.1%. The Costa Blanca also saw the number of foreign tourists from other European countries grow.

For example the number of German tourists grew by 2.4%, the number of Belgian tourists grew by 38.8% and the number of Swedish tourists grew by 60%.

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Joan Mesquida, announced yesterday that the total revenue received by the tourism sector in Spain was 50,000 million euros in 2008 which is the same as for 2007. However, given the sharp rise in costs due to the rising price of petrol over the last 12 months this news is not viewed as particularly positive for the sector.

Yesterday the Association of hotel owners complained to the new Director of Tourism policy for the Costa Blanca, Gema Amor about the lack of promotion of the region. For example cinema advertisements in London and Manchester, designed by her predecessor Sebastián Fernández, have been stopped. The association reminded Amor of the importance of the UK market for regional tourism.

Business leaders for the tourism sector also complained that the regional authorities were not making use of economic resources available from Turespaña. For example the company in charge of promoting Barcelona abroad has just signed an agreement with Turespaña, to finance 50% of a campaign promoting it in various US states.

British Airways which operates daily flights between Alicante and London published the results of a report yesterday which revealed that going on holiday in the UK was now up to 15% cheaper for Spanish tourists compared to a year ago. It stated that Spanish tourists could save up to 100 euros on a weekend trip to the UK. British Airways is not the only company that operates between Alicante and London. Ryanair, Easyjet, Monarch and Thomsonfly also operate on the same route.

According to the latest figures reservations between Alicante and London have grown by 30%.