Shopping Tourism Makes Spain A Top Destination

Young women in shopping centre

Shopping tourism. Credit: Image by pressfoto on Freepik

A recent report presented in Barcelona by The World Travel and Tourism Council ( WTTC ) reveals that Spain is ninth in world ranking as a shopping destination based on its contribution to Gross Domestic Product.

Global Retail Tourism Trends and Insights 2023, by the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong in collaboration with The Bicester Collection, highlighted that shopping tourism is responsible for 55,000 jobs throughout Spain and plays a pivotal role in the global recovery of the travel industry after the COVID pandemic. 

2022 saw a global increase of inbound tourist spending of some 82 per cent and, in the case of Spain, shopping tourism created an increase in travel spending during 2021 of some 2,210 million euros.

The five main countries tourists to Spain originated from during 2022 were: UK (20 per cent), Germany and France (14 per cent respectively), Italy (6 per cent) and the Netherlands (5 per cent). Tourists from those five countries spent an average of just over 347 euros a head on food, alcohol, tobacco and clothes during 2022.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the WTTC, said: “Shopping tourism is no longer limited to souvenir shopping; it is a driving force behind the recovery of the travel and tourism industry, contributing significantly to income, job creation and overall economic growth.”

It is clear that shopping is no longer a secondary leisure activity for travellers and tourists are making key decisions about their travel destination based on how attractive the shopping opportunities are. 

Traditionally there has been a lack of research into shopping tourism which the WTTC sought to address with its report. The report pulls out several key themes emerging into tourists’ shopping habits such as ‘retailtainment’, a blend of shopping and entertainment that enhances customer experience.

Other upcoming shopping habits are out-of-town retail centres, sustainable retail and, in addition to luxury brands, shopping tourists are looking to buy quality goods that reflect the culture and unique qualities of their travel destination.

With increasingly frequent heat waves potentially making beach holidays in Spain less attractive to tourists, promoting the country as a top destination for shopping may be the future.

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Written by

Emma Mitchell

Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on