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Spain Surpasses Pre-Pandemic Tourism Levels in 2023

Spain’s Tourism Minister Jordi Hereu has announced his country’s extraordinary performance of tourism in 2023.

The minister said that 2023 was a record year —more than 84 million international tourists and more than 108 billion euros in destination spending, the best figures in the historical series— which has confirmed the change in the Spanish tourism model.

These end-of-year figures for 2023, provided early by Turespaña, indicate that Spain has surpassed the number of tourists from the pre-pandemic reference year of 2019 by 1%, and the spending of that same year by 17.4%. Compared to 2022, there is a 19% increase in the number of visitors, and a 23.8% increase in tourist spending.

In a press conference held at the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, Hereu also assured that “according to forecasts by Turespaña, the first four months of this year (2024) will exceed the visitors of the first quarter of 2023 by 10.8% (with 23 million travelers expected in four months), and an 18.5% increase in spending (around 30 billion euros between January and April).

“We must continue to promote and take care of the tourism sector, one of the pillars of our economy, with policies that make it more sustainable, fairer for workers, territories, and citizens, and at the same time attractive to visitors throughout the year,” Hereu emphasized, also clarifying that “we should not focus only on the battle of quantity or sanctify the number of people who visit us, but rather pay more attention to destination spending and other parameters related to sustainability and quality.”

To complete the balance of 2023, the minister referred to the historic employment figures in the tourism sector. Last year ended with 2.5 million affiliates, a growth of 5.4% in December compared to December 2002, and more salaried employees in the sector than ever before (6.4% more). These figures indicate, in Hereu’s words, that “Spain has managed to reduce temporality and increase wages, which shows that, in tourism, as in many other sectors, we are creating a virtuous circle in which we are generating economic prosperity while expanding labor rights.”

In his speech, accompanied by the Secretary of State, Rosana Morillo, and the Director-General of Turespaña, Miguel Sanz, the head of Tourism highlighted the investments made in recent years by the Government, through European funds channeled by the Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan, which have amounted to more than 3.4 billion euros in aid to transform and modernize the tourism industry.

Fitur 2024: Sustainability Goal

Just a few days before the start of FITUR 2024 in Madrid, one of the most important tourism fairs held annually in the world, Jordi Hereu recalled the importance of this event for the country’s tourism industry.

In this year’s edition, the main focuses of FITUR will be sustainability and accessibility, “precisely two of the challenges that this Government has set for this legislature and for which we are working, along with the private sector, to make them 100% a reality,” the minister specified.

The 44th edition of FITUR will begin at IFEMA on Wednesday, January 24 for professionals, and on Saturday, January 27 for the general public.

This year it will feature more than 8,500 exhibiting companies and 136,000 professionals and, as in past editions, will have specialized areas such as Fitur Woman, Fitur Talent, or Fitur LGBT+.

Important announcements are expected to announce at the FITUR. One of them is about hosting Formula 1 in Madrid.

12.5 M€ in Tourism Promotion

Turespaña, the public entity under the Ministry of Industry and Tourism that promotes Spain as a tourist destination, invested more than 12.5 million euros in advertising and marketing campaigns in 2023 to promote Spanish destinations in source countries and markets.

Among the main highlights are the Picasso Year campaign, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the painter’s death, and ‘branded content’ actions with National Geographic and Conde Nast Traveler or the campaign to promote Spain as a ‘tax-free’ shopping destination in the United Kingdom.

In this new edition of FITUR, Turespaña will have a 605 m2 space, located in hall 9 of IFEMA, which will house an agora for public presentations with a capacity for 90 people, a presentation room, LED screen space, and institutional offices.

Additionally, this year sees the introduction of a panel linked to the 40 years of Turespaña campaigns with the Miró logo and a summary of the organization’s historical campaigns since its creation in 1984.

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