From 22 May we will be working to update all of the data and documents on this page following the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revision of the International Passenger Survey (IPS) data for 2009-2018 and the released detailed 2019 data. UK data will be updated first and followed by the regional data from 27 May. Please be patient as we update these pages or contact the VisitBritain research team if you have any questions- VB/ Thank you.

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)26.8
Global rank for international tourism expenditure11
Number of outbound visits (m)28.3
Most visited destinationFrance

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)47.1
GDP per capita PPP (US$)38,149
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)1.0
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)2.0

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 the UK are museums and music
  • Cultural attractions are amongst the most important reasons for choosing Britain as a holiday destination
  • The Spanish rate the UK highly for ‘contemporary culture’, ‘sport’, ‘vibrant cities', 'culture' in general, and 'historic buildings', but less so for ‘scenic natural beauty’ and ‘welcome’; Britain was rated 33rd and 26th out of fifty nations respectively on these two attributes in 2019
  • 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 departures2,558
Weekly seat capacity472,866
Airports with direct routes in Spain30
Airports with direct routes in Britain28
Weekly ferry crossings7
  • In 2019, there were 2,558 weekly departures with an average seating capacity of 472,866
  • 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
  • The vast majority of visits from Spain are by air, all of whom are subject an Air Passenger Duty fee of £13