After the storm. What’s left of the Spanish outbound market after the crisis?

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After the storm. What’s left of the Spanish outbound market after the crisis?

After the storm.  What’s left of the Spanish outbound market after the crisis?


Gone are the years in which the crisis hit hard the Spanish outbound sector due to the conjunction of factors that made the national economy shake. Those who predicted that muddling through would take seven or eight years, and those who called for a ‘lost decade’, were right. But if there is a sector that has contributed to the economic recovery faster than expected, that has been tourism. It has been remarkable the recovery of national tourism, which since 2014 and especially last year has had increases that have reached numbers close to those recorded in the years before the crash.

All tourist indicators relating to the domestic market have experienced notable growth in recent years as a result of the improvement in the economic environment, resulting in a decline in the unemployment rate and an increase in household final consumption expenditure. As a consequence of that, there has been a recovery of the domestic demand and, as far as the tourism sector is concerned, an increase in the growth of trips within Spain and abroad.

A significant change has also taken place between tourism companies, which have re-launched merge, takeover and expansion operations that had been halted by the crisis in a double direction: large Spanish chains have continued to buy companies that allowed them to maintain a dominant position in consolidated and emerging markets, while other international operators have set their sights on Spain as one of the most attractive markets in which to channel their investments. As a recent example of this new situation, it is enough to mention the purchase of the Catai tour operator by the Barceló Group.

Bankruptcies of large groups such as Viajes Marsans and Orizonia, accompanied by the closing of close to 5,000 travel agencies in the years of the great recession (2008-2013), has given way to a recovery phase in the tourist business, in which, although there hasn’t been an increase in the number of offices opened it has escalated in terms of employment, which has recovered six thousand of the ten thousand jobs that had been lost, in order to respond to the gradual growth of the business. A sample of this is the increase in overseas trips made by residents in our country, which registered positive rates (+ 3.7% in the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest bulletin published by Coyuntur) in line with the positive results for outbound tourism that have been achieved since the end of 2013. Europe is still the favorite continent for tourists leaving our country – Austria and Germany are the most demanded destinations- followed by Asia -Thailand and Japan are the most visited -, the United States – an all-time favorite – and Africa, according to the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies.

Another one of the most significant pieces of data regarding the positive evolution of this sector, which can give an idea of ​​how the storm that started in 2007 has calmed down, is the rise of 20% in year-on-year rate of payments for overseas tourism by residents, reaching  a volume of 7,813 million euros in the first half of the year, according to the balance of payments published by the Bank of Spain, or the fact that the business of retail travel agencies will reach 13.5 billion euros during 2016 and that wholesalers will gross about 4.5 billion euros at the end of the year, according to the latest report from the DBK Sector Observatory of Informa D & B.

In short, despite the political uncertainty caused by the absence of a new government for so many months that may end up taking its toll, the national outbound market is very close to ending the recession and begins to look at the future with optimism. The data of all tourist organizations points in this direction. It is only necessary that the good economic evolution ends up bolstering this out-of-the-crisis trend.

By María Sánchez



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