The National Institute of Statistics has just published data on the number of tourists received in March and the number backlogged in the first quarter. When it seemed that we were about to pass the 2019 data and we could believe that this year would be final and that we would pass 83.5 million tourists, the month of March brought us very bad news. The number of tourists we received in the month was 6.9% less than in 2019, which equates to 400,000 fewer tourists.
All indications, all communications, press releases pointed to the fact that we were already there and suddenly a bowl of cold water.
Obviously the first thing I did was check that in 2019 Easter wasn’t in March so that would distort all the data, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case, Easter in 2019 was halfway through April . So it’s not a problem with holiday dates but simply that tourism has declined and of course I haven’t read any possible explanation as to why this is happening.
When I look at the website of the Ministry dedicated to Tourism, I find myself as usual. Praise be to the government for good performance and growth in 2022, but no comparison is made with the year we should be looking at, 2019, to see whether or not the pandemic has influenced a change in direction or preferences.
It gave a feeling that we had picked up the pace since we had a cumulative February of just over 100,000 tourists to equal the 2019 result and it was very encouraging data. But the month of March made us wake up from the illusion to lead us to a reality that is not pleasant at all, which is that at the end of this year we may still be behind 2019 and have already lost 4 years.
Let’s see what happened in March and how we’re doing in the end-of-quarter backlog:
In March 2019, we received 5.6 million tourists, and our main customer was the United Kingdom, with 1.1 million tourists, followed by Germany with 0.8 million, and France with about 0.7 million.
In 2023, we welcomed 5.2 million tourists and left behind 392,501 tourists who did not come.
The largest percentage drop comes from the rest of the world, which decreased by almost 30% (29.1%), followed by the Nordic countries, which reduced their presence by 20.9%, and third, Germany, which decreased by 20.9%. 16.8% compared to 2019. It is followed by Switzerland with 15.8% and Belgium with 12.6%.
Only the rest of Europe which increased by 27.0%, Ireland which increased by 14.3%, the rest of America which increased by 10.3%, and the United States which increased by 6.6% grew in percentage terms.
On the other hand, in absolute terms, we see the biggest problem in Germany, where we lost 135,600 tourists in a quarter. The rest of the world, where 117,302 fewer tourists came, and the Nordic countries, where 103,247 tourists stopped coming.
Our main customer, the United Kingdom, sent us 1,069,322 tourists, which is down 3.6% and equates to 40,361 tourists.
If we look at it from a Q1 standpoint, we lost a total of 500,511 tourists, which leaves us at 13.72 million compared to 14.22 in 2019.
In percentage terms, the largest losses occur in the rest of the world, where we lost a third of the tourists who came to Spain, and thus we lost 362,719 tourists.
It is followed by Germany with 11.4% and a cumulative loss of 213,268 tourists and the United Kingdom which, although declining by only 7.4%, shows its importance with a loss of 206,691 tourists.
On the positive side we have Ireland, which adds 66,012 more tourists with its growth of 21.7%, and the Netherlands, with its growth of 11.2%, allows us to bring back 60,932 tourists, which, together with the rest of Europe, which grows 29.8%, gives us the joy of adding 356,492 tourists over 2019.
In short, this is data from a specific month only, which greatly affected the quarter of the year, because it caused a loss of 3.5% and half a million tourists, but we still have time to fix the problem if we start to work and start trying to recover German and Nordic tourists. At the end of the year we must try to ensure that the small loss in the UK does not become a loss of more than a million, which would mean 50% less loss than last year.
But for that, the first thing to do is assume we have a problem and not that we are going like Fernando Alonso’s car.
If we keep thinking and saying that everything is fine, it may happen that this will fix itself or that it will get worse, but what we cannot do is cover our eyes and think that everything is done, because then we will give to ourselves.
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