This Week's Focus: Tourism as a factor of growth in Spain

This Week's Focus: Tourism as a factor of growth in Spain


Tourism as a factor of growth in Spain
Following the election results of May 24 has reopened the debate on the role to be played by tourism in some municipalities, particularly in Barcelona. Against suspicion generated by mass tourism in some neighborhoods and tourist areas, it is argued that generates wealth and is a mainstay of the economic recovery in Spain.

Contribution of the tourism sector to GDP
The revenues that come from spending by foreign tourists in Spain are considered export of services for the purposes of national accounts. Therefore, its contribution to GDP can see the direct impact of tourism on economic growth. What is harder to see at a glance it is the indirect impact of tourism on other economic activities, as well as externalities or non-monetary costs generated to society.

From the data obtained from INE ( we have produced this graph relating the earnings reported by tourism to GDP.

Tourism revenues account for just over 4% of GDP. In the last 10 years, their contribution has remained between 5.23% in 2001 and 3.53% in 2009.

According to the INE, the total contribution, ie direct and indirect tourism to GDP was 10.9% in 2012 to 112.035 million euros.

As for the activity of trade, transport and hospitality sector, which forms part of the services, their weight in GDP it has remained more or less constant at around 20% over the last 10 years. Services account for almost 70% of Spanish GDP today, from just over 60% in 1995.

In the field of trade activities, transportation and hospitality must take into account the so-called "domestic tourism", ie, that generated by the Spaniards to do tourism in their own country.

The uneven distribution of tourism in Spain
The contribution of tourism to GDP in Spain is not evenly distributed either in time or in space. There is a high concentration of tourist arrivals in the months of July and August which anticipated that Spain is a tourist destination resort basically associated with the sun and sand.

Likewise, tourism is concentrated in a few regions. Thus, coastal destinations account for 84% of tourism and income in just 5 autonomous regions, Catalonia still has the greatest share more than 25% of tourists came to Spain in 2014.

In terms of revenue, according to information from Idescat ( expenditure by foreign tourists in Catalonia in 2014 was 15.131 million euros, representing 24% of total spending, so Catalonia tourism reached in 2014 spent slightly less than the average of tourism across the country. Madrid has the highest average daily expenditure, followed by the Basque Country, while Valencia is where less is spent per day of stay.

The Spanish tourist, more generous than the visitor
Data from the Bank of Spain and the General Department of Knowledge and Tourism Studies of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism allowed to develop, with the limitations of the available information, a snapshot of Spanish tourists when traveling abroad. It is worth mentioning that the decrease of GDP (equivalent to import services from abroad) is about 2%.

In 2014, 11,782,715 travel abroad with an average stay of 9.3 days, represented a tourism spending by residents in Spain about 13.665 million euros. The average expenditure per displacement was 1,160 euros with an average daily expenditure of 124.70 euros.

In the following table we can see the spending they do is Spain foreign tourists by country of origin, and draw some conclusions.

A first direct conclusion is that Spanish tourists spend more than what they bring when they visit Britain, for example, even though they outnumber us.

On the other hand, it seems that we should promote tourism from the US, Switzerland or from China because the average daily spending clearly exceeds that of other origins, but would have to see if an increase of visitors from those countries would not decrease its average expenditure .

In any case, in terms of efficiency, it appears that if the Spanish tourist on average visitor is better than the average tourist who comes to Spain, at least in spending that takes place, perhaps worthwhile promote domestic tourism to the detriment of whose origin countries with lower average spending per tourist (France, Belgium and the Netherlands).

The social cost of tourism and tourist tax
In view of the above data, and the realization that Spain receives in a year more tourists to the country and people have not shared equally in either the territory or time, one wonders about the cost that represents such invasion places where concentrated.

In addition to the need to develop infrastructure to conveniently accommodate so many tourists, the management of waste and cleaning and public order require budget, the absence of such tourism would probably have other destinations.

Despite the initial rejection of the tourism sector to tax at a rate overnight stays, it seems that its introduction, at least in Catalunya, has affected the number of visitors or the business they generate.

According to data from the General Directorate of Tourism of the Generalitat de Catalunya, in 2014 nearly 41 million euros for this concept, more than half in the city of Barcelona was raised. The hotel industry raised nearly 80% of the fee. The average amount per tourist in 2014 was 2.43 €, which certainly does not have to assume due to decrease tourism for the introduction of that rate.

By extrapolation, apply a similar total number of tourists who visited Spain in 2014, average rate would mean a revenue of about 158 ​​million euros, equivalent to the average annual investment in commuter rail network in Catalonia between 2008 and 2011 according to the Government of Spain; network which incidentally used many tourists to move between Barcelona and coastal destinations near the capital.

However, the application of the proceeds from the tourist tax to improve public services that impact on tourism and normally financed by taxes of citizens living, can have an impact that the social cost minore tourism, especially in the areas of greatest agglomeration and infrastructure and overhead areas, such as coastal areas and big cities.

In short, tourism contributes to Spanish GDP with about 10% between direct and indirect impact, which is certainly a positive factor for the Spanish economy, low hours, but it should not be magnified because of their high volatility and externalities entails. In Spain, the creation of stable employment is a priority and the tourism sector employs just over 2 million people, of which 1.7 are salaried.