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. Data for 2021 and 2022 was also impacted by COVID-19, more information can be found on the About IPS page.

Due to the above, the latest full year IPS data below is from 2019. You can access data detailed data from 2020 onwards on the latest annual page.

Visitor characteristics

  • Business visitors are almost four times more likely to be male than female
  • 46% of spending came from holiday visits, 29% from visits to friends and/or relatives and 15% from business in 2022
  • 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

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)21.4
Global rank for international tourism expenditure9
Number of outbound visits (m)23.0
Most visited destinationFrance

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)47.6
GDP per capita PPP (US$)47,085
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)1.3
Annual GDP growth (%)5.4

Inbound visits to Britain from Spain

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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

Weekly aircraft departures2,455
Weekly seat capacity457,178
Airports with direct routes in Spain30
Airports with direct routes in Britain27
Weekly ferry crossings6
  • In 2023, there are 2,455 weekly departures with an average seating capacity of 457,178
  • 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 London airports receive 45% of the scheduled seat capacity in 2023
  • Following the Covid-19 pandemic, scheduled seat capacity on non-stop flights from Spain to the UK has recovered to 97% of 2019 levels in 2023
  • The vast majority of visits from Spain are by air, all of whom are subject an Air Passenger Duty fee of £13