Nothing stops Spanish tourism. The omens came true and the data for the first seven months of the year are leaving a great taste in the mouths of most players in the tourism sector, who not only improved the figures compared to last year, but also surpassed those of 2019, the year of all records. The main airlines and hotel companies speak openly of a historic year, supported by the rise in rates as a result of inflation, and the massive return of international tourism, and their results for the first semester confirm this trend.
Faced with the uncertainty that plagued previous seasons, the main hotel chains do not hide their positivity regarding the coming months of the tourism business. “We do not see a slowdown in demand, we expect a promising summer season and a strong recovery starting in September,” confessed the president of Meliá Hotels, Gabriel Escarrer.
The Majorcan chain has seen how its reservations grow by around 30% due to the high recovery of tourism for events and conferences that have maintained the pace of sales since September. Until then, tourist hotels are matching their occupancy figures from last year with much higher average prices. Escarrer recently revealed that by the end of the year they have already registered 46% of the total reservations, something that anticipates “a very positive trend for the first half of 2024”.
The same feelings appear from the NH hotel chain, where they are “optimistic” with the evolution of the coming months. A solid demand for leisure tourism and the “intense” reactivation of business trips have allowed the average revenue per room (ADR) to rise to record levels: between April and June they reached 152 euros per night, 24% more than in 2019
Record year for air traffic
The aviation sector maintains similar expectations. The president of Aena, Maurici Lucena, already hinted that 2023 would be a record year for air traffic and hoped to “perfectly” exceed the historical data for 2019. Almost 130 million passengers passed through Spanish airports during the first six months of the year, 23% more than in 2022 below 2019 (11.8 million).
The IAG airline group, owner of two of the main airlines in the country, Iberia and Vueling, starred in one of the big increases of the week on the stock market after announcing profits of 921 million between June and January, it supported especially January for the good progress of operations in Spain. In fact, Iberia closed the first half of the year with its highest quarterly profit ever recorded, of 307 million euros. Already in May, the holding company improved its estimates with a view to exceeding 2,300 million profits at the end of the year due to the strong demand observed and the high rate of reserves.
Ryanair, the main European airline, expects its air traffic to grow by 9% until March next year, although it will do so less than expected due to delays in the delivery of new aircraft. The Irish company, which claims to be having a “solid” rate of reservations, is already openly talking about an increase in its rates by an average of 2 euros as it sees its salary costs increase. In a much more cautious way than their competitors, they claim to have “a very limited third-quarter visibility, and none for the fourth”, but they take it for granted that they will have to implement a “rate stimulus” during the winter season to fill its planes, which will present 25% more seats than before 2019.
Caixabank believes that growth will slow down
The Caixabank research service speaks of a “new stage” for Spanish tourism, for which it expects “particularly positive” figures this year. But it warns of a possible “change of scenery” towards the end of the year or beginning of 2024 that will moderate the growth rate of the tourism sector. A tougher macro-financial environment, competition from countries like Turkey or the commitment to long-haul European travelers are some of the causes. His estimates speak of a rise in Tourism GDP of 6.5% and its moderation to 1.5% by 2024.
As for the regions, some of the most touristy have already advanced their summer forecasts. Andalusia expects to exceed the figure of 11.5 million tourists between July and September, which would mean an increase of 1% in 2019 and 5% in last year. The Andalusian government is already talking about a much longer summer season, which “due to climate and tourist activity”, would extend from May to October, having located an increase in long-stay winter reservations. In the Valencian Community, its hotel employer Hosbec adds that “the health crisis during is history” and, after closing July above 90% occupancy, they hope to maintain these figures for the month of August.