Spanish is the language for travel and hospitality

Spanish is an important language for world travelers. It is the language of some of the world’s favorite tourist and business destinations.

According to statistics from World Tourism Organisation UNWTO 2013, one Hispanic country is among the first 10 tourist recipients. Flag of Spain Spain is in third place after Flag of France France and the Flag of the United States United States of America. In dollars revenue, Spain is also second with 60.4 billion USD taking a 7.4% of the world percentage.

In Central America (+4%) all destinations reported consistent growth, with Flag of Costa Rica Costa Rica, Flag of El Salvador El Salvador and Flag of Nicaragua Nicaragua (all +4%) around the subregion’s average. Flag of Belize Belize (+6%) and Flag of Honduras Honduras (+5%) grew somewhat faster and Flag of Guatemala Guatemala and Flag of Panama Panama (both +3%) slightly slower.

Growth in South America (+3%) was in line with the region’s average. Flag of Peru Peru (+11%) recorded double-digit growth while Flag of Ecuador Ecuador (+7%), Flag of Paraguay Paraguay and Flag of Colombia Colombia (both +5%) all posted sound results. Arrival data for Flag of Brazil Brazil, the subregion’s largest destination, is not yet available but receipt figures indicate a rather flat trend.

The Caribbean registered a modest 2% increase in arrivals in 2013. Among the larger destinations, Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (+4%) and the Flag of the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic (+3%) saw growth above the subregional average. Smaller destinations such as Flag of Aruba Aruba (+8%), the Flag of the Cayman Islands Cayman Islands, Flag of Anguilla Anguilla (both +7%) and Flag of Curaçao Curaçao (+5%) also reported healthy growth. After a decline in 2012, Flag of Haiti Haiti reported a solid 20% increase in arrivals.1


Spain: 3rd world tourism destination

Spain is the third country in the world in terms of tourism arrivals:

  • In August of 2013, Spain has registered 8.3 million international tourists, 7.1% more than in the same month last year. The number of tourists visiting Spain has been consistently increasing in the last 7 months
  • By end of 2013, Spain registered a total of 60.6 million visitors and Spain itself with a total population of 46.5 million
Top ten International tourist arrivals
Top ten International tourist arrivals 2013 / Top ten international tourist receipts Footnote 2

The Tourism and Hospitality industries are very important and fast growing in Australia. The Spanish language is a definite conduct and advantage for all the students at university or TAFE, looking into Travel and Hospitality as a future career.


Spain: 3rd in world meetings, incentives, congresses and exhibitions

Spain has invested enormously in this sector during the last few years to enhance the competitive edge, both in hotels, conference centres and unique venues, with 44 conference centres well distributed over the peninsula characterized by the quality of the services they provide. There are 45 civil airports (11 international). As of 2013 Madrid is the 6th largest airport in Europe, with capacity to handle 70 million passengers a year and Barcelona is the 10th largest airport in Europe.

List of the busiest airports in Europe 2013 statistics
Airport statistics 2013
List of the busiest airports in Europe 2013 statistics Footnote 3
Worldwide rankings: Number of meetings per country
Worldwide rankings: Number of meetings per country
Worldwide rankings: Number of meetings per country Footnote 4
Worldwide rankings: Number of meetings per city
Worldwide rankings: Number of meetings per city
Worldwide rankings: Number of meetings per city Footnote 5

As an example of the growth of business tourism in Spain you only have to look at the city of Barcelona as an example to understand how Spain has experienced an excellent annual accumulated growth. We expect that the Business Meeting market will continue to grow in our country at the same rhythm, leading to an overall increase in market share.

Barcelona annually attracts 7.4 million visitors including 50% leisure visitors, 42% business visitors and 8% visiting friends and relatives (2011). The majority of visitors to Barcelona are from Europe, 51.2%, with 25.2% travelling from outside of Europe, whilst 23.6% of visitors are from Spain (Turismede Barcelona, 2012). According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Barcelona is the 3rd most popular city for business meetings based on the number of international association meetings held. The figures do not take into account the number of delegates or the size of the space required for these meetings…

Business tourism includes people travelling for purposes which are related to their work such as:

  • Individual business travel whose employment requires them to travel
  • Meetings such as conferences, training and board meetings to help communication within the company and/or between producers, consumers and shareholders
  • Exhibitions such as trade shows, product launches and consumer shows where businesses display and promote their products to potential customers
  • Incentive travel, where groups of staff are rewarded with overseas travel for exceeding sales targets or winning a prize related to their employment, usually containing a conference element; and
  • Corporate hospitality, where companies impress potential clients by acting as hosts at major sporting or cultural events
    (Davidson and Cope, 2003; Holloway and Humphreys, 2012)

Figures released by the Barcelona Convention Bureau reflect an increase of 6.8% in the number of professional meetings held in the city and a 5% rise in the number of participants. In 2011 the city hosted a total of 2,283 meetings with 647,693 delegates. Over 80% of delegates were from outside of Spain. The hotel and tourism industry benefits from the increasing numbers of business delegates creating 2.5 million overnight stays in Barcelona which is a 2.6% rise on the previous year (Ajuntament de Barcelona, 2012).6

Spain: The best destination for golf 

Spain has 245 golf courses and it is becoming a European leader for the quality of the courses and the achievements of international Spanish golf players such as Sergio García, Severiano Ballesteros and José María Olazábal .

Some other tourism facts

  • Spain has 11 international airports; 341 sportive ports; 28 ski resorts; 1242 camping sites; more than 58,000 restaurants; 1.4 million available rooms, including the Paradores Nacionales (hotel network of castles, palaces and historical buildings)
  • Sporting activities and adventures including rock-climbing, hiking, horse trekking, cycling, white water rafting and canyoning. Tarifa is reputed for being the best place in Europe for doing windsurfing and kite-surfing


Useful links


 1. “UNWTO Tourism Highlights, 2014 Edition” on the Tourism Trends and Marketing Strategies UNWTO website [Online] Cited 03/11/2014
2. Ibid., p. 6
3. “List of the busiest airports in Europe” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 04/11/2014
4. “ICCA Statistics Report 2013” p.13 on the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) website [Online] Cited 04/11/2014
5. Ibid., p. 18
6. Marvell, A. (2013) ‘The growth of business tourism in Barcelona’, Geography Matters, Post-16 and HE Committee of the Geographical Association, Spring, pp. 21-24