Spain’s January tourist boom

Spain hits record figures for January

Image of passengers at Barcelona Airport. Credit: Toniflap/

In January 2024, Spain witnessed a remarkable surge in international air passenger traffic, marking a significant upturn compared to the previous year.

This upswing was officially reported by Turespaña, revealing that January saw the arrival of 5.9 million international air passengers.

The figure represents a 12.7 per cent increase over January 2023, vividly illustrating Spain’s growing appeal as an all-year-round tourist hotspot.

The data indicates that 57.3 per cent of these arrivals were from EU countries, experiencing a 13.1 per cent rise, while the influx from other parts of the world, making up 42.7 per cent, also saw a notable increase of 12.3 per cent.

A diverse tourist base

Jordi Hereu, the Minister for Industry and Tourism, expressed his satisfaction with these numbers. ‘The importance of Spain’s strong rise as a favourite destination for the global tourism market,’ he stated, underscores Spain’s effectiveness in attracting international visitors.

Hereu also emphasised the broader strategic goal, ‘the fact that we continue to grow in terms of tourists is good, but it is even better to continue to make progress in the challenge of diversifying and improving the quality of tourism, and today’s figures confirm this good trend, a reflection of the policies promoted by the government.’

All major source countries, except Portugal, saw an increase in the number of passengers heading to Spain. Noteworthy growth was recorded from Poland (77 per cent), Ireland (19.2 per cent), Italy (18.2 per cent), and the US (17.5 per cent), signalling a broadening of market sources.

Key markets and destinations

The United Kingdom led in the number of arrivals with 1.1 million passengers, which made up 17.9 per cent of the total and an 11.1 per cent year-on-year increase.

The Canary Islands emerged as the prime destination for British visitors. A staggering 81.6 per cent of these passengers chose low-cost carriers, with the UK market leading in this segment.

Germany and Italy also showed significant increases, with 687,829 and 632,563 passengers respectively. German visitors favoured the Canary Islands, while Italian tourists were drawn to Catalonia and the Madrid Region.

Regional attraction

Spain’s autonomous communities played a significant role in this tourism surge, with Andalucia and Valencia recording the highest increases of 21.3 per cent and 18.5 per cent respectively.

The Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport welcomed the most arrivals, followed by Barcelona and Tenerife. Malaga and Alicante airports also saw remarkable growth, further evidence of Spain’s nationwide appeal to international travellers.

In summary, Spain’s tourism sector has started 2024 on a high note, with significant growth in international air passengers. This trend not only boosts the economy but also highlights the country’s ongoing efforts to diversify and enhance the quality of its tourism offerings.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.