Spanish urban destinations increased their power of attraction due to sustained improvements in their cultural, gastronomic and hotel offer, highlighting the boom in large cities (Madrid and a recovered Barcelona) and the good performance of cities in the north, among which are the increase in profitability detected in A Coruña, Lugo, Pontevedra and Santiago, according to the Barometer of Profitability and Employment of Spanish tourist destinations published by Exceltur and the summer results are collected.
The report of the hotel employers warns, once again, to the foreseeable scenario of slowdown that will face Europe in which Spain “has the opportunity to address an ambitious and true State commitment to the gradual transformation of tourism, which is pending for years,” a slowdown that occurs along with the resurgence of several competing destinations, the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit and the effects of the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, and the image projected by the recent altercations in Catalonia, which “draw in the short term an increasingly complex scenario for the Spanish tourism sector which, among others, will require a rethinking and competitive evolution of its supply and demand management models”.
In this sense, Exceltur stresses the need to invest in improving supply, especially on the coast, establishing policies that contribute to improving congestion in urban spaces and certain points of the coast in high season, greatly affected by the uncontrolled growth of tourist housing, all in a global context marked by profound changes in consumer travel patterns, opportunities arising from digitalization, demographic transformation and climate change. “In short, a paradigm shift that requires new policies that also pack more with the citizenry,” says the report that establishes 15 transformative measures, structured in 4 major areas, whose aspiration is to achieve an average annual growth of 2.4% of tourism activity in the legislature that will start soon, versus 1.6% estimated for the close of 2019.
As for the image portrayed of summer in Spain, although on average the profitability induced by tourism grows during the summer months (+4.4% REVPAR and +2.9% employment, Jun-Sep.), realities are detected between very disparate and contrasting destinations and companies with urban destinations that rise and holiday destinations that fall, except in Catalonia and Andalusia with differential realities and speeds, depending on the markets of origin of their tourists and the degree of investment in the improvement and repositioning of its offer, along with the very different strategies of competitive differentiation that are accused between companies.
Growth in northern cities
Of the 105 destinations analysed, only 71 experienced increases in income and 84 increased their tourist employment in the 2019 summer season. The cities accelerate their growth intensely (+10.6% in RevPAR and +4.6% in employment), while those on the coast remain (RevPAR +1.5% and employment +1.3%). The report thus includes a notable boom of large cities with a settlement in the recovery of Barcelona and a good performance of northern cities: Galician (A Coruña +18.2, Lugo +15.9, Pontevedra +11.6% and Santiago +6.8%), Santander (+2.8%), Bilbao (+8.7%) and San Sebastian (+5.5%), which leads the urban REVPAR during the summer with € 157.6, above holiday destinations.
The declines in profitability and influx occur in most Canarian destinations while in the Balearic Islands the results are uneven, some hold well thanks to the British market (until the fall of Thomas Cook) while the German and Nordic markets fall.