It’s official: over one million Irish residents travelled to Spain between January and September this year, according to figures just released by the Spanish Statistical Institute and the Spanish Tourism Office. Gonzalo Ceballos, Director of the Spanish Tourism Office in Ireland, said that he wanted to thank the Irish public for making Spain the number one destination of choice for holidaymakers.
While June and July remain the most popular months for travel, the figures also show that 145,000 Irish residents travelled to Spain in September, an 8.5% increase on 2013. The most popular destinations are the Canary Islands, Andalucía, Cataluña, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. These five destinations account for 90% of Irish tourism to Spain.
More Irish tourists holidayed in Spain than the combined total to France, Italy, Portugal and Germany. Gonzalo Ceballos pointed to a number of factors for the extraordinary popularity of Spain as a destination: “Ireland and Spain are well connected through air travel, with over 1.2 million seats sold by airlines so far this year. Spain offers a broad choice to tourists, either relaxing or on cultural and adventure travel, with 45 biosphere destinations and 44 World Heritage Sites, making it a world leader in these categories. Of course, Spain also offers over 3,000 beaches and 664 Blue Flag awards, marking it out as the number one country in the world for such facilities. Irish tourists also value the fact that in Spain we have one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and an excellent healthcare system. More than anything, I think the welcoming nature of the people, the culture and relaxed atmosphere attracts and binds Irish and Spanish people and makes it a natural choice.”
In 2013, Spain accounted for 24% of all the nights spent abroad by Irish tourists and 21% of all Irish travel expenditure was spent on travel to Spain. This is more than France, Germany and Italy combined. According to the Central Statistics Office, Spain is second only to the UK in terms of the number of trips taken by Irish residents.