Spain experienced a record year for tourism from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region in 2023, with a 33% increase compared to 2022 and a 56% increase compared to 2019.

These numbers were recently published by the National Statistic Authority of Spain.

Saudi Arabia was a prime example of this growth, with more than 100% increase from 2019 to 23 and a 92% increase compared to 2022. The total number of Saudi tourists surged to 182,000, surpassing UAE as the main GCC market for Spain. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait also followed this growth trend.

The total number of GCC residents visiting Spain in 2023 reached 434,000, with an average stay of 8.6 days and a notable increase in expenditure. Factors such as good weather, family-friendly environments, and cultural resonance including the great Arab legacy attract GCC travellers to Spain, said Turespaña, the Spain tourism office for the GCC, said.

Looking ahead to 2024, Spain aims to further consolidate its position as a top destination for Middle Eastern travellers through marketing campaigns, strategic alliances and multiple events, it said.

In line with this, Spain Tourism recently concluded a successful roadshow across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, showcasing various regions and offerings of Spain to travel trade partners. The event facilitated networking and collaboration opportunities, emphasising Spain's commitment to providing unforgettable experiences for Middle Eastern travellers.

Daniel Rosado, Director/Tourism Counsellor at Spain Tourism, expressed enthusiasm, stating: "We are delighted with the positive response and engagement we received during our roadshow in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE. These regions hold immense potential for Spanish tourism, and our collaboration with travel trade partners has strengthened our commitment to providing unforgettable experiences for Middle Eastern travellers."

The roadshow aligns with Spain Tourism's broader strategy to foster international partnerships, expand its reach, and enhance the global visibility of Spain as a premier travel destination. The collaboration between Spanish partners and travel trade professionals from the Middle East marks a significant step forward in promoting cross-cultural exchanges and fostering mutual growth within the tourism industry.

Additionally, Spain Tourism organised this February 10 its first Polo tournament, bringing together travel trade professionals and polo enthusiasts in a relaxed networking environment. The event highlighted the elegance and premium aspects of Spanish culture, including equestrian activities, sports and experiences contributing to the promotion of Spain as a diverse and attractive destination.

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