Britons top visitors to Spain in July as tourism breaks records
July marked another monthly record for tourist arrivals in Spain as the number of visitors rose 10.1 percent year-on-year, with Britons still leading the pack, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said on Thursday.
Spain hosted over 10.5 million foreign tourists in the month, adding to expectations that in 2017 arrivals will reach a fresh high. In the first seven months of the year, the number of visitors rose 11.3 percent to 46.9 million.
Caixabank Research predicts a total of 83 million internationals tourists will visit throughout the year.
Northeastern Catalonia, a popular destination due to its Mediterranean coastline, was the most visited region in July.
Catalonia was hit by two Islamist militant attacks on Aug. 17 and 18 on major tourist haunts. Attackers mowed down crowds on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas and struck the seaside town of Cambrils, killing 16 people and injuring more than 100.
Hotel groups and government ministers have so far dismissed concerns that the attacks could affect tourist arrivals, saying cancellations since have been isolated.
Spain had benefited from security concerns elsewhere after attacks on other popular tourist spots such as Tunisia and Turkey.
Safety and security concerns are becoming increasingly important to travellers, with up to two thirds only planning to travel to international destinations they perceive as safe, according to a survey by ITB World Travel.
Tourism has been a key industry for Spain’s economic recovery, accounting for around 11 percent of economic output and employing 13 percent of the population.
British tourists remained the largest group of visitors to Spain by nationality, accounting for 22.1 percent of the total, in spite of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016 and the falling value of sterling since.
“There is no noticeable impact of Brexit on our future bookings, which remain positive,” a spokesman for British tour operator Thomas Cook said. “The annual sun and beach holiday is resilient.”
Just over 2.3 million Britons travelled to Spain in July, up 7 percent from a year earlier.
Further drops in the pound could be a dampener for package holidays and affect prices, however. Tour operators in Europe tend to take fuel costs and make bed bookings in euros, meaning a weaker pound could translate into higher costs being passed on to consumers.