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Spain a European bright spot as tourist spending rises

Tax Free Shopping (TFS) spend in Spain rose by +22% in January year-on-year (YoY), continuing the upward trend in growth recorded towards the end of 2015.

The rise follows an increase of +34% in Q4 as Spain recovered more quickly than other European countries in the wake of a challenging Q3, tak

The January increase compares to a TFS sales fall of -3% in the eurozone and +3% growth YoY, globally.

Spend in Spain is being driven by a weak euro relative to the Chinese yuan and US dollar. Its ability to attract a wider and unique mix of visitor nationalities, including globe shoppers from North Africa and South America, compared to other destinations, ensures it is less susceptible to fluctuations in inbound numbers from any one country. Spain is the sixth most popular destination for globe shoppers, according to Global Blue data for January.

The European Tourism 2015 report from the European Trade Commission (ETC) highlights Spain’s enduring appeal to tourists. International arrivals between January and September were up by a healthy +4% compared with a Europe-wide rise of +5%. Overnight stays in Spain rose +2.3% during the same period.

Chinese shoppers are the leading globe shopper nationality in Spain, with Brazilians, Mexicans and Argentines also featuring in the top 10. Global Blue data shows a decline among Brazilian shopper spend as the impact of the country’s weakening economy makes international travel and shopping more expensive.

A strong US economy and dollar has helped boost American visitor numbers to Spain. According to the ETC, there was an uplift of more than +20% in visits from the US last year, with a mid-teens percentage rise in overnight visits.

Japanese visitor numbers to Spain were also notable in 2015 with growth of nearly +30% in arrivals and more than +30% in overnight stays.

In recent months Spain has become an alternative for Russian tourists still booking European breaks despite the weakening economy and currency. Tours to previously popular holiday destinations of Turkey and Egypt are no longer available, prompting Russians to head to Spain instead.


Global Blue takeouts:

  • Spain has become a pocket of positivity for TFS spend within Europe, a position that is likely to continue as travellers choose the country over other destinations in 2016.
  • As a mature tourism destination, it continues to see healthy growth in visitor numbers from a wide range of nationalities.