Spain

Spain

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) was suspended on 16 March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic until the start of 2021. The ONS have made every effort to produce high-quality estimates for the periods when IPS data is not being collected but have not been able to produce a full set of results. See the 2020 inbound page for more information.

The 2021 data is ‘incomplete’ as Eurotunnel data was unavailable for Q1 to Q3 but modelled for Q4. In addition, interviewing at Dover restarted from Q3 2021 and pseudo records for the Irish land border were also removed in 2021. More info can be found on the 2021 inbound page.

For 2022, Eurotunnel data was modelled for the first half of the year and the latest data can be found on the monthly and quarterly pages. Interviewing at Eurostar was not affected by Covid-19 restrictions in 2021 or the first half of 2022. The ONS restarted IPS interviews at all ports from July 2022.

Due to the above, the latest full year IPS data below is from 2019.

Visitor characteristics

  • Business visitors are more than three times more likely to be male than female
  • 48% of spending came from holiday visits, 28% from visits to friends and/or relatives and 14% from business in 2019
  • More than three-in-five of holiday visitors are making a repeat visit to Britain (excluding British expats)
  • 98% of visitors from Spain are either ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break

Popular activities

Dining in a restaurant

Sightseeing of Famous Buildings/ Monuments

Went Shopping

Global context

Measure2019
International tourism expenditure (US$bn)27.8
Global rank for international tourism expenditure11
Number of outbound visits (m)29.2
Most visited destinationFrance

Key demographic and economic data

Measure2022
Population (m)47.6
GDP per capita PPP (US$)43,777
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)1.2
Annual GDP growth (%)4.3

Inbound visits to Britain from Spain

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OVERVIEW OF UK VISITOR STATISTICS {{activeYear.name}}

Number of visits

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Total expenditure (GBP)

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Total nights spent

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Average length of stay (Nights)

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Average spend per visit (GBP)

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What Spaniards think about Britain

  • The Spanish have an upbeat opinion of the UK ranking it overall fifth out of sixty nations in 2022 
  • The cultural products that the Spanish most strongly associate with the UK are museums, music, and films
  • Cultural attractions are amongst the most important reasons for choosing Britain as a holiday destination
  • The Spanish rate the UK highly for ‘contemporary culture’, ‘vibrant cities', ‘sport’, 'tourism', 'culture' in general, and 'historic buildings', but less so for ‘scenic natural beauty’ and ‘welcome’; Britain was rated 29th and 30th out of sixty nations respectively on these two attributes in 2022
  • Areas of strength for Britain include ‘good shopping’, ‘the ease of getting around’, ‘party’ and ‘to watch sporting events’ while very few consider Britain as the best place for ‘food and drink’
  • Activities that appeal to potential Spanish visitors include 'taking a canal boat tour through the waterways of England', 'taking a street art tour in one of Britain's modern cities', 'visiting Windsor Castle', 'a food tour of one of London's best foodie markets', and 'spotting wildlife in the Scottish Highlands'

Caring for visitors

  • Websites, brochures, leaflets, signs and so on, need to be available in Spanish
  • Bed & Breakfast accommodation is popular, especially outside London, or boutique budget hotels which are centrally located
  • Spanish are interested in local colour – markets, pubs, interesting excursions and shopping possibilities
  • The Spanish tend to eat late, normally not taking dinner until after 9pm

The leisure & travel trade

  • Virtually all tour operators feature Britain either in a dedicated brochure or as part of a European programme
  • Generally tour operators use ground handlers in the UK
  • The planning cycle is later than in other European countries, taking place from January-April and May-September
  • Personal relationships are very important to the Spanish and take time to build

Access to Britain from Spain

Measure2022
Weekly aircraft departures2,247
Weekly seat capacity420,139
Airports with direct routes in Spain28
Airports with direct routes in Britain29
Weekly ferry crossings5
  • In 2022, there were 2,247 weekly departures with an average seating capacity of 420,139
  • Capacity is highly seasonal, reflecting demand for travel by Britons to Spain rather than vice-versa
  • Airports right across Britain have direct air links from Spain but Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Heathrow are the airports receiving the greatest volumes
  • Following the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, scheduled flight seat capacity in 2022 from Spain to the UK recovered to 89% of 2019 levels
  • The vast majority of visits from Spain are by air, all of whom are subject an Air Passenger Duty fee of £13