Spain sets new tourism record

Holy Week boosts Spanish tourism

Holy Week in Malaga. Credit: Petr Pavlica/

Has Spain unlocked the key to year-round tourism success? The first quarter of 2024 has seen historic highs in both tourist numbers and expenditure.

The Easter weekend celebrated at the end of March, saw a huge surge in foreign tourists. The National Institute of Statistics (INE) released figures showing that Spain had welcomed over 16.1 million tourists by the end of March 2024, a surge of 17.7 per cent from the previous year.

This period also witnessed a record-breaking spend of €21,948 million, boosted significantly by Holy Week.

Regional highlights

The Canary Islands, Catalonia, and Andalucia were the most visited regions in this first quarter. The Canary Islands alone attracted 4.3 million visitors, marking a 14.3 per cent increase. Catalonia saw a 20.7 per cent rise, with 3.4 million tourists, while Andalucia welcomed 2.4 million, up by 18.7 per cent.

In terms of spending, the Canary Islands led with 29.7 per cent of the total expenditure. Catalonia followed with 16.6 per cent, and the Community of Madrid captured 15.5 per cent of the overall spend.

Tourist demographics and spending

March 2024 set new records for daily expenditure, with tourists spending an average of €180 per day. March also saw a slight increase in the duration of visits with an average stay of 7.6 days.

The UK, Germany, and France were the top three sources of tourists. The UK led with 1.2 million visitors in March, an increase of 13.3 per cent. German visitors numbered 909,031, up by 28.7 per cent on 2023; visitors from France numbered 791,648, an increase of 31.8 per cent.

In the first three months of 2024, the United Kingdom was the country with the highest accumulated spending (16.4 per cent of the total). They were followed by Germany (12.7 per cent) and the Nordic countries (8.6 per cent).

Jordi Hereu, the Minister of Industry and Tourism, reflected on the data, and explained that the first three months, which are traditionally seen as the off-peak season, have turned out to be among the best. He emphasised the shift towards a more sustainable and prosperous tourism model is better for Spain.

This data illustrates not only a significant rise in tourist numbers and spending but also points towards a successful shift in Spain’s tourism strategy, aiming for a more balanced and year-round industry.

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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.