Spain continues to be one of the top visited countries in the World – in 2018, the country welcomed more than 82 million tourists, staying over 460 million room nights and bringing in $89.5 billion of tourism revenue into the country.
Over the past years, GCC travellers have doubled their arrivals into Spain – from 119,000 in 2014 to 240,000 tourists in 2018. “While the UAE ranks No:1 in terms of arrivals – close to 100,000 tourists, Kuwait visitors have doubled in the last four years – In 2017, we had more than 39,000 tourists from Kuwait,” revealed Miguel Nieto-Sandoval, tourism counsellor for the Spanish Tourism Office in the GCC.
A major contributing factor for the growth in arrivals is the increased connectivity with Spain. In the past two years, many national airlines have increased their frequency, capacity and routes to Spain. Currently, three cities – Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga all have direct connectivity with the GCC region. Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has announced its first touch point in Spain with a seasonal flight to Malaga this summer.
Besides the growing number of tourists, GCC nationals are also one of biggest spenders during their visit to Spain, spending on an average $1,413 per trip. Countries like the UAE and KSA feature among the top spenders in Spain and their average spend is 45 per cent higher than the next highest country globally.
Mediterranean cruises and the love of football has placed Barcelona as the top city favoured by GCC travellers in Spain. This is followed by Madrid and the city of Malaga on the Costa del Sol.
Majority of the tourists visit the coastal town of Malaga and Marbella, known for their beautiful beaches and luxurious retail and leisure pursuits, the untapped region in Andalucia. “Home for over 800 years to the Moorish empire, exploring the Arab legacy in Andalucia from the Cordoba Mosque to the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville is an absolute must do for anyone from the Gulf Region,” recommends Nieto-Sandoval.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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