Visitor characteristics

  • Business visitors are more than four times more likely to be male than female
  • 45% of spending came from holiday visits, 35% from visits to friends and/or relatives in 2018
  • More than three in five of holiday visitors are making a repeat visit to Britain (excluding British expats)
  • 99% of visitors from Spain are either ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break

Popular activities

Visited a Pub

Visited Parks/ Gardens

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)26.0
Global rank for international tourism expenditure12
Number of outbound visits (m)28.6
Most visited destinationFrance

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)46.6
GDP per capita PPP (US$)34,815
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)0.4
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)2.5

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 cultural products that the Spanish most strongly associate with Britain are museums and music
  • Cultural attractions are amongst the most important reasons for choosing Britain as a holiday destination
  • The Spanish rate Britain highly for ‘contemporary culture’, ‘sport’, ‘cultural heritage’, ‘historic buildings and monuments’ and ‘vibrant cities’, but less so for ‘scenic natural beauty’ and ‘welcome’; Britain was rated 36th and 32nd out of fifty nations respectively on these two attributes in 2018
  • 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’
  • France and Ireland were the most considered competitor destinations by Spanish visitors in 2016

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 departures2,521
Weekly seat capacity460,439
Airports with direct routes in Spain29
Airports with direct routes in Britain28
Weekly ferry crossings7
  • Although seat capacity was down 6% in 2018 compared to 2017, it was still considerably higher than previous years
  • 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 and Stansted are the airports receiving the greatest volumes
  • The vast majority of visits from Spain are by air, all of whom are subject an Air Passenger Duty fee of £13