Tourists Abandon the US, Choose Spain Instead

Jan 16, 2018

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Spain was the second-most popular holiday destination in the world in 2017, according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Although the official UNWTO report will not be published until this spring, all tourism statistics indicate that Spain beat out the United States, with 82 million visitors in 2017,  a record-breaking total that marks a nine percent increase over the year. 

“We’ve become the world’s second-largest receiver of tourists, and are in second place worldwide in income from tourists,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Wednesday.

Rajoy also said that Spain’s total income from tourism rose 12 percent in 2017, to €87 billion ($106.7 billion USD).

Global tourism experienced a boom worldwide, growing to 1.3 billion travelers crossing international borders in 2017, according to latest estimates.

In contrast to Spain’s strong year, the United States experienced a particularly weak year of tourism amongst international travelers. Experts cite multiple factors in the decrease, including a strong US dollar, which made travel comparatively more expensive for foreigners; devastation from multiple natural disasters including hurricanes Irma and Harvey; and October’s Las Vegas shooting, which left 58 people dead and 546 injured.

But the “Trump slump” was one of the top reasons for US tourism decline, according to ForwardKeys, which predicts future global travel patterns by analyzing over 17 million booking transactions per day. President Trump’s series of travel bans against several Muslim-majority countries deterred many international travelers from entering US borders, according to ForwardKeys data.

In contrast, Spain’s impressive tourism growth took place despite a terrorist attack in August in the Catalonia region, home of wildly popular tourist destination Barcelona.

Feature photo of the Triana district, Seville, Spain. (Photo by Mario Gutiérrez/Getty Images)

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