Outbound Spanish travel spend to reach $64B in 2021

Spanish tourists have traveled domestically for years to regions such as Andalusia for sun and beach holidays, said Ralph Hollister, travel and tourism associate analyst at GlobalData. Photo credit: Jena Tesse Fox

While there have been plenty of studies on the value of inbound tourism to Spain (and the correlating value of hotel investment in its more popular regions), the value of the country’s outbound travel trends hasn’t received nearly as much attention. 

A new study from analytics company GlobalData found Spanish outbound tourism is expected to grow from $47.9 billion this year to $64 billion in 2021, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6 percent.

GlobalData’s latest report, "Tourism Source Market Insight: Spain - Analysis of tourist profiles and flows, spending patterns, destination markets, risks and future opportunities," reveals Spain’s economy has been growing for 17 consecutive quarters. As a result, Spanish tourists are likely to have an increase in disposable income to travel abroad, reflected by GlobalData’s high growth forecast.

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“After major reforms in the Spanish economy earlier this decade, Spain has well exceeded its pre-crises level of gross domestic product in 2008,” said Ralph Hollister, travel and tourism associate analyst at GlobalData. “The combination of a decrease in unemployment rate, increase in pay and the rise of low-cost carriers (LCCs) means outbound travel is now financially possible for a much higher percentage of the Spanish population.”

From 2017 to 2019, expenditure grew exponentially at a CAGR of 12.1 percent from $38.1 billion to $47.9 billion. This dramatic rate of growth indicates the growing profitability of Spain as a tourism source market. Spain’s increasing growth in outbound expenditure is one of the highest in Europe. The country’s forecast CAGR of 15.6 percent is more than double the growth of particular G7 countries between 2019 and 2021, such as France and Italy.

GlobalData forecasts that Spanish outbound spending will start to increase at a higher rate on sightseeing and entertainment activities. The country’s financial situation going from strength to strength enables Spanish tourists to spend more money on "add-on" activities such as these. 

“Spanish tourists have traveled domestically for years to regions such as Andalusia for sun and beach holidays due to financial restrictions and a lack of desire for new experiences,” Hollister said. “Now, due to social media and the millennial market segment becoming more prevalent, Spanish tourists are visiting cities all over Europe in search [of] different cultural experiences through entertainment and sightseeing activities.”

While outbound tourism expenditure is expected to grow continuously for years to come, domestic overnight stays are expected to slow down in 2021. This forecast may be as a result of usual domestic tourists now utilizing LCCs to travel internationally, according to GlobalData.

“New Spanish LCCs such as Vueling are making destinations such as Latin America more attractive with new routes,” Hollister noted. “The stereotypical cost-conscious Spanish tourist who needs affordability and accessibility will be attracted to these airlines [that] can offer them value for money and a direct route to long-haul destinations.” 

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