Air transport and tourism

Spain received 82.8 million international tourists in 2018, a historical record.

Air transport and tourism in Spain

Air transport is crucial for tourism, a strategic cornerstone of our economy which makes a major contribution to wealth and employment. Spain is the world's top holiday destination, it is second in tourist spending and second in total number of tourists. Over 80% of Spain's tourists arrive by plane.

In 2018, Spain received 82.8 million international tourists, 900,000 more than the prior year (1.1% year-on-year variation), setting a record for the sixth year in a row.

Of these 82.8 million tourists, over half came from three source markets: the UK, with over 18.5 million; Germany with 11.4 million, and France, with 11.3 million.

Airports are the main gateway for tourists visiting Spain. More than 67.5 million (81.6%) used an aircraft as their means of transport, 15.6% travelled by road and less than 3% used other types of transport1.

2018 comparative data

Spain ranked second world-wide in international tourist arrivals in 2018, behind only France, and followed by the USA, China, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Germany, Thailand and the United Kingdom. 2

ARRIVAL OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS
Country Millions Variation (%)
2017 2018 2017 2018
France 86.9 89.4 5.1 2.9
Spain 81.9 82.8 8.7 1.1
USA 76.9 79.6 0.7 3.5
China 60.7 62.9 2.5 3.6
Italy 58.2 62.1 11.2 6.7
Turkey 37.6 45.8 24.1 21.7
Mexico 39.3 41.4 12.0 5.5
Germany 37.4 38.9 5.2 3.8
Thailand 35.5 38.9 9.1 7.9
United Kingdom 37.6 36.3 5.1 -3.5

Source: World Tourism Organization

Our country is also second in the world and first in Europe in international tourism revenue, with a total revenue of over 73 billion USD. With regard to this statistic, Spain is only behind the USA, which surpassed 214 billion. Behind Spain are France, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Germany, Japan and China.

Tourism is a key sector for the Spanish economy, making up 11% of GDP and employing over 2 million people.

REVENUE FROM INTERNATIONAL TOURISM
Country Billions* Variation (%)
2017 2018 2017 2018
USA 210.7 214.4 1.9 1.8
Spain 68.0 73.8 10.1 8.3
France 60.7 67.4 9.0 11.0
Thailand 56.9 63.0 13.1 10.7
United Kingdom 49.0 51.8 12.1 5.8
Italy 44.2 49.3 7.7 11.4
Australia 41.7 45.0 9.3 7.9
Germany 39.8 43.0 4.2 7.9
Japan 34.0 41.1 14.4 20.7
China 38.6 40.4 -13.3 4.7

Source: World Tourism Organisation

* US Dollars

 

Spain, world leader in tourism competitiveness

Spain leads the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index published for 140 countries by the World Economic Forum, ahead of France and Germany.

This Forum, which each year organises the Davos meeting, where the major world leaders in finance, politics, and civil society come together, attributes Spain's success to its natural and cultural resources and its excellent infrastructures and accommodations services.

tourism competitiveness index

1 Source: National Statistics Institute. Tourist Movement on Borders (Frontur).

2 Source: UNWTO Tourism Highlights, 2018 Edition.