Foreigners being replaced by Spanish tourists in Spain


MADRID — The economic crisis means that Spanish hotels will have more domestic than foreign tourists this summer for the first time in decades, an industry official predicted Friday.

In the 1980s an estimated 70 percent of tourists were foreigners, Roman Estalella, head of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation, told the Europa Press news agency.

This year, “Spaniards will spend less on travel by staying” within the country, while the number of overseas tourists will be down by 8.0 percent as the economic crisis hits both Spain iteself and its source markets for tourism.

He said the months May and June have already been “very bad.”

And “for the first time”, the percentage of domestic tourists taking holidays in Spanish hotels will exceed that of foreigners, he said.

Spain saw a huge boom in tourism development in the 1960s and 70s, which led it to becoming one of the world’s top destinations.

It received 57.4 million visitors last year, a 2.6 percent drop from 2007 and the first fall since the current record-keeping system was introduced in 1995.

On Thursday, the UN World Tourism Organisation announced that Spain had fallen from second to third among the world’s favorite destinations, behind France and the United States.

The government has forecast a 10-percent fall in tourist arrivals this summer.

Earlier this year, it announced a one-billion-euro loan scheme aimed at hotels and other tourist sector establishments to help them modernise and face up to growing competition from cheaper sunshine destinations.

Estalalla said the regions most affected by the crisis in the tourism industry this summer will be the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands due to “air connectivity problems.”

But he said discounts being offered by hotels mean that occupancy will remain high.