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Spain detaches itself from sun and beach tourism

On the occasion of the World Tourism Day, Mabrian Technologies, in collaboration with Interface Tourism Spain, have developed a study about the most interesting tourist products for international travellers who visit Spain, and conclude that mature products such as sun and beach and nightlife, are losing relevance in favour of active, natural and cultural tourism.

Madrid, 26 September 2018.- Tourists’ motivations and travel intentions have evolved in recent years in search of new experiences and personal enrichment. So much so, that the main tourist attraction for which Spain is known, sun and beach, is losing interest among foreign visitors, as opposed to the increase of the cultural, active and natural offer.

This trend is confirmed by the study developed by Mabrian Technologies together with Interface Spain, about the interests of the tourists who travel to Spain, through the analysis of the visitors spontaneous mentions in social networks. In particular, over 55 million tourist mentions referring to 113 tourist destinations throughout Spain (coastal as well as inland and cities) have been analysed, between 1st January and 31st August 2018 and the same period in 2017.

This huge data sample (Big Data), added to Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence technologies in which Mabrian Technologies is specialised, have allowed to extract dynamics and trends, that have been analysed together with the tourism consultancy agency Interface Tourism Spain.

In the data analysis, cultural tourism is the one that generates most interest among users in general (28% of the tourist mentions), above even sun and beach (19%). The top 5 tourist products for 2018 also includes natural (11%), active (10%) and gastronomic (9%) tourism.

If we look at the trends that these interests follow in the year-on-year comparison 2018 vs 2017, we can observe how the interest related to sun and beach and nightlife products clearly loses prominence (-10% and -7%, respectively), with respect to alternative tourist products such as wellness (+14%), natural (+9%) and active (+6%).

The study highlights that the wellness product, is the one that gathers the greatest relative interest increase by users in general. Although this motivation wasn’t a priority in 2017 (2,89% of the mentions), it has gained prominence in 2018: indeed, the increase of tourist mentions related to yoga practice, tranquillity, or the slow lifestyle, clearly show an opportunity for Spanish destinations.

In a more detailed analysis regarding the main origin markets for Spain, different trends can be observed, but they all have a common link: the interest falls for sun and beach and nightlife, and the interest increases for active and natural tourist products.

Among the remarkable differences by origin markets, there is a notable increase in the interest for shopping (+22%) and wellness (+11,6%) from the Italian market. There is a substantial increase in terms of the family product (+14%) for the British market, an increase in the wellness product (+7,5%) for the German market. Last but not least, the French market shows an increase in the interest for cultural products (+5%).

In view of this study, and other recently published information (see references), in relation to a structural change in Spain’s tourist positioning, it seems that visitors are responding well to the new tourism proposal. This opens the door to the desired deseasonalisation and diversification options in the Spanish tourism sector, that allow to access niche markets and differentiated targets, providing more value during their visits, and increasing tourist spend. Not in vain, a direct relation has been established between the visitors interested in products such as cultural and active, and the average spend per tourist.

This would allow many Spanish tourist destinations to reduce their exposure to the intermediated market, compete in better conditions after the return to the international tourist market of Mediterranean competitors with an aggressive pricing policy, and rethink the pricing strategy to provide added value beyond exclusively sun and beach tourism.


España entre los países con más recursos para liderar el turismo cultural. Source: Ostelea, vía Hosteltur. Patrimonio Cultural y Turismo: oportunidades y desafíos de la valorización turística del patrimonio’

España ya no es sólo sol y playa: aumenta un 23% el turismo cultural este verano. Source: Weekendesk vía El Mundo.

Turismo activo: tendencia ganadora en 2018. Source: vía Hosteltur.

Menos turistas pero más ingresos ¿retroceso o más cerca de otro modelo?. Source: Hosteltur, Encuesta de Movimientos turísticos de Frontur.

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