The latest figures from the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism show that some 3.3 million travellers used low cost airlines to get in and out of Spain during the first two months of 2015, up 14.4 per cent on the same period a year earlier.
Passengers from the UK make up around a third of this total, while visitors from Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands also account for significant proportions of those looking to soak up some Spanish sunshine. The data shows that traditional (non-budget) airlines saw an increase in passengers of just 1.7 per cent over the same period, highlighting the draw that low cost routes have.
New routes are helping to fuel the appetite for cheap flights to Spain. Norwegian has just launched three new Spanish routes from the UK’s Birmingham Airport, flying to Madrid, Malaga and Barcelona. Meanwhile, Spanish airport operator Aena has revealed that more than 1 million flights have already been programmed to and from Spain for the summer season, an increase of 3.6% on the 2014 summer season.
A record 65 million tourists visited Spain last year, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Now, though, the Iberian country has set its sights on encouraging tourists to spend the money they save on flights in its shops as well as its cafés and restaurants.
Turespana’s Angela Castano comments: “Spain has a major image deficit as a shopping destination.”
Figures from Innov Taxfree certainly back up the statement, showing that the average Chinese tourist in Spain spends €900, while in Paris the figure rises to €1,500.
“Spain is looking to court tourists by promoting its shopping offer this year,” comments Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of leading Spanish homebuilder Taylor Wimpey España. “The country has some fantastic shopping destinations, but many visitors simply overlook the stores in favour of the beaches. Mallorca, for example, has a fantastic high end retail offering, while places like Marbella on the Costa del Sol are packed with retailers, from independent, boutique stores to national and international chains.”
Figures from INE for January 2015 show that the figures are starting to move in the direction that Spain would like. Tourist spending was up 9.5 per cent on the same period last year, with 3.6 per cent more visitors arriving and the average spend per visitor increasing by 5.7 per cent.
Some of those visitors are looking for the ultimate shopping purchase – a property in the sunshine to use as a second home.
“Increased tourist spending in Spain’s shops is a win for everyone,” concludes Pritchard. “It stimulates the economy, promotes employment and serves to bolster the housing market. It should be a very positive summer for Spain this year as tourists save on their flights in order to spend while they are on holiday here.”