Spain’s tourism could break an all-time record in 2023, reaching 264 million travellers

According to a study conducted by Dr. Francisco García Pascual, the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication at the European University, the number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Spain in 2023 is projected to reach 263.9 million people. This figure surpasses the pre-pandemic statistics and represents a significant increase of 6.6 percentage points compared to the tourism numbers in 2022.

The potential “historic record” of 263.9 million tourists in Spain in 2023 could lead to “high levels of touristification, nearing saturation” in coastal towns along the Mediterranean, the Canary and Balearic Islands, as well as in major tourist cities.

The study conducted by the European University relies on data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), which collects information through active and passive events detected by telephone antennas.

In 2022, Spain received a total of 247.3 million tourists, with 171.7 million being domestic travelers and 75.6 million foreigners. Foreign tourism experienced a remarkable growth of 89%, while domestic tourism increased by 12%, approaching pre-pandemic levels.

The study also explores the geographical distribution of tourism in the country, with coastal areas, accounting for only 9% of Spain’s surface area, attracting 48% of all tourists. Urban areas accounted for 28%, rural areas for 16%, and mountain regions for 8%.

Despite this concentration, tourism is spread across Spain, with 92% of the country’s municipalities receiving tourists. The so-called “Empty Spain” managed to capture 24% of the total Spanish tourist movement.

Among individual cities, Madrid experienced a significant 43% growth in tourist volume in 2022 and emerged as the most prominent destination, attracting 14.7 million visitors during this period. Following Madrid, there were Barcelona with 9.2 million tourists, Seville, Valencia, and Palma de Mallorca, all of which exceeded three million visitors.

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