Visitor characteristics

  • Half of holiday visitors are aged under 35, perhaps a concern given the acute employment situation for the young in Spain at present
  • Business visitors are four times more likely to be male than female
  • More than half of holiday visitors are making a repeat visit to Britain
  • While seven-in-ten visitors are Spanish around one-quarter are in fact British expats
  • Madrid and Barcelona are the areas of Spain generating the greatest number of visits
  • 83% of visitors from Spain are either ‘very’ or ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break

Popular activities

Visited a Museum

Visited Parks/ Gardens

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)17.8
Global rank for international tourism expenditure16
Number of outbound visits (m)23.0
Most visited destinationFrance

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)46.4
GDP per capita (Int $)25,854
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)0.4
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)3.2

Inbound visits to Britain

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Seasonality (Share of visits)

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Regional spread (Share of visits)

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Access to Britain from Spain

Weekly aircraft departures2,452
Weekly seat capacity449,280
Airports with direct routes in Spain32
Airports with direct routes in Britain28
Weekly ferry crossings7
  • Seat capacity from Spain has not changed greatly in recent years and 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

What Spaniards think about Britain

  • The cultural products that the Spanish most strongly associate with Britain are museums and pop videos
  • 42% associate the statement ‘has a rich and interesting history’ with Britain
  • 32% believe Britain is ‘good for High Street shopping’
  • Although nearly one-third associates Britain with ‘scenic natural beauty’, competitor destinations such as France and Ireland are more strongly associated with the attribute
  • The Spanish do not consider Britain to be a ‘luxurious’, ‘relaxing’ or ‘romantic’ destination
  • Italy and Ireland are viewed far more favourably than Britain for ‘people’ related attributes such as ‘welcome’

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 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


Spain market profile

Read about the preferences of Europeans towards tourism. Published March 2015

Find out where visitors from Spain to the UK reside in their own country. Published 2010

Exchange rate

1 GBP = 1.1822 EUR

As of 26 April 2017

Retrieved from the Bank of England