Pablo Hernández de Cos: Competitiveness factors in the Spanish tourism sector

Speech by Mr Pablo Hernández de Cos, Governor of the Bank of Spain, at the Hotusa Explora - 10th Tourism Innovation Forum, Madrid, 22 January 2024.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
24 January 2024


I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me to take part in this forum, enabling me to share with you the Banco de España's analysis of the Spanish tourism sector, with a particular focus on recent developments and the challenges ahead.

Allow me to begin with a brief comment on the content of my address today. As a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, I am currently subject to the so-called "quiet period" preceding the meetings at which monetary policy decisions are taken. Accordingly, my reflections in this speech should not be taken as indicative of the monetary or economic outlook.

The importance of the tourism sector for the domestic economy and at an international level is widely acknowledged. Tourism is the country's main productive sector: in 2022 it contributed 11.6% to GDP and 9.3% to employment,1 and tourism exports accounted for 5.7% of GDP in 2023,2 with the tourism surplus standing at 3.4%, not far off the all-time high seen in 2017.

Spain is also the number one European country in terms of international visitors, and the preferred destination for German, English, French, Italian and Dutch tourists, while five Spanish tourist destinations (Mallorca, Barcelona, Tenerife, Alicante and Malaga) are among the top ten most popular in Europe.

Thus, the growth of the Spanish economy in the coming years will depend in large part on how this sector develops. And maintaining the recent momentum will require improvements to the factors driving competitiveness in a complex international setting.