Tourism in Spain – We’re now the world’s #2 tourist destination

January 17, 2018

Some good – or bad – news about tourism in Spain.

According to the official statistics, Spain is now the world’s #2 tourist destination.

Finally overtaking the USA, Spain had 82 million international visitors last year – still leaving France as #1.

More info in this article from El País in English.

Good times for the Spanish economy.

But of course, not everyone’s excited…

Tourism in Spain – the national debate goes on?

I’ve actually heard nothing about the national debate over tourism in Spain for several months.

I wrote about anti-tourism protests in some of the more visited areas last year.

It seemed like a big thing, at least up in Barcelona and Mallorca.

But here’s the deal: now it’s winter. It’s cold and nobody really wants to go out and protest.

And anyway, it’s football season now, so that takes up a lot of evenings. Obviously nobody can protest over the extra-long Christmas / New Year’s / Reyes holiday season. Too much roscón to eat. Too many gifts to buy. The lines at the Corte Inglés are ridiculous.

How can you be expected to carry on with the class war with all this going on?

Also, we’ve got something else to worry about these days…

The Catalonian Independence movement keeps plugging along – of course, everyone in Madrid lost interest months ago.

But I’m sure that’s keeping people in Barcelona and nearby islands busy.

tourism in spain - alcázar de córdoba
Come to Spain! The sunshine is free. Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, Córdoba. Photo by Mr Chorizo.

Meanwhile, the national economy is growing quite nicely. While the “Catalan problem” has shaved a few tenths of a percent off of Spanish tourism, and companies continue to flee Catalonia, the Spanish economy in general is doing just fine.

Hard hit by the crisis years ago, it seems like now things are going well.

Just as an anecdotal example, I feel like I spent 8 or 10 years without seeing a single help wanted sign on a local business, typical Spanish bar or otherwise.

Now they’re back.

Help is wanted. Not quite at 2004 – 2007 levels, but progress is progress.

We’ll take whatever we can get, ’round here.

Coming to visit Spain? Welcome!

If you’re going to be in Madrid anytime soon, you can check out my articles on Lonely Planet: Where to find old-school Spanish food in Madrid, and how to spend a great day in Malasaña.

And if you’re going to be travelling around Spain, well, enjoy! There are a lot of great places, on and off the beaten path.

At this point I’ve been north, south, east and west, and I love all of it.

The mountains and the valleys. The cities, the country.

Spain. My beautiful adopted country.

From sea to shining sea.

Have fun,

Mr Chorizo.

P.S. What do you think about tourism in Spain? Are you for or against – or indifferent? Hit me up right here in the comments. Thanks!

P.P.S. Some places I like: Gran Canaria, Cuenca and Puerto de Santa Maria. There’s more… but I don’t write articles about everywhere I go.

P.P.P.S. I’ve also got an article about the difference between a tourist and a traveller, if that’s more your style. What do you think?

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. So what’s the conclusion? I saw the anti-tourism protests as well and wondered what the general feeling would be like in Madrid as I saw most of the activity and graffiti has been centered around Barcelona. What is the general feeling in the rest of the country? I haven’t detected any of it, although I’ve only been here a week. Staying for several months.

    1. Hey Andy! I’m not sure… I haven’t seen much anti-tourism stuff here in Madrid either. And a lot of regions in Spain obviously need the money much more. The protestors might be all pro-independence now. Who knows? Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Hola de nuevo.

    Sólo un pequeño aporte a tu nota y con ánimo de ser mas pro que anti, indicar que una de las propuestas que se pueden apoyar o no, en las páginas de Madrid Decide, ya sabes la pagina del ayuntamiento donde se discuten las iniciativas propuestas por los vecinos y ver si son llevadas al pleno municipal, hay una para aplicar una moratoria turística en Madrid y que asociaciones como Lavapiés ¿Dónde vas? hacen normalmente marchas contra la gentrificación y toma por multinacionales turísticas del barrio

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