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2010, a record year for Basque tourism

2011 January 24

The new tourist promotion policy, the sector's endeavours, the agreements with Tourespaña and the peaceful climate are behind the success of Basque tourism.

The Basque Country has witnessed 18 consecutive months of growth in inbound tourism since July 2009. 2010, the best year in the history of Basque Country Tourism, saw 12.4% more visitors and 12.6% more overnight stays than the previous year.

A total of 2,238,699 people visited the Basque Country last year, which meant that 2010 was the best year in the history of Basque Tourism. That figure was 145,000 visitors (+7%) up on the sector's previous best year, 2007.

According to Eustat (Basque Statistics Office) data, Basque hotel establishments posted growth of +12.4% in 2009. The accumulated growth of overnight stays was even greater (+12.6%) and there was a total of 4.2 million overnight stays in 2010.
By provinces, Álava posted the greatest increase, both in terms of the number of visitors (+22%) and overnight stays (+25%), while they rose by +11% and +14% in Biscay, respectively. The number of visitors was up by +10% and overnight stays by +7% in Gipuzkoa.

By provincial capital, Vitoria-Gasteiz recorded the highest increase in the Basque Country, with +24% more visitors and +29% overnight stays. San Sebastián saw a rise of +13% in the number of visitors and +11% in overnight stays. The number of visitors rose by +11% and overnight stays by +14% in Bilbao.

Pilar Zorrilla, the Basque Government's Minister for Trade and Tourism, accompanied by Isabel Muela, Director of Tourism, and Ana Izaguirre, Director of Basquetour, the Basque Tourism Agency, held a press conference today to analyse these figures.

A new policy / 18 months of growth

The heads of Basque Tourism explained the sector's success in the Basque Country as the sum of a series of factors: the new promotion policy underpinned by the new Marketing Plan approved a year ago, the efforts of the sector in the Basque Country, along with the agreements signed by the Basque Government with Tourespaña to promote the Basque Country abroad and the peaceful climate that now prevails.
The "Euskadi saboréala" ("Basque Country, savour it") tourist brand was unveiled a year ago. Basque tourist products have also been redefined and the emphasis placed on quality and competitiveness. Thanks to this, the Basque Country was named as the most competitive autonomous region in Spain last year, according to the exhaustive MoniTur study.

Various conclusions can be reached from analysing the data. One is that the Basque Country has posted 18 months of growth in inbound tourism. This upturn to the previous trend dates back to July 2009.

Record number of foreign tourists

Special mention should be made of the number of foreign tourists, as average growth was +18% in 2010. The threshold of 700,000 foreign visitors was crossed for the first time.

The increase in tourists from France is particularly important, as it consolidated its position as the leading country in terms of outbound tourism to the Basque Country, which was up +20%. France was followed by tourists from the United Kingdom (up +22%), Germany (+17%), the USA-Canada (+16%), Italy (+13%) and Portugal (+22%). There was also notable growth in the number of tourists from South and Central America this year (+25%).

The bed occupancy rate has tended to fall in recent years due to the opening of new hotel establishments. However, there was an upturn in this trend in 2010 due to the increase in the number of tourists. As far as the average stay was concerned, it remained unchanged with respect to previous years: steady at 1.88 days.

Rural tourism establishments posted a positive performance in 2010. The number of tourists and overnight stays grew by 5%. By provinces, the number of visitors increased by 14% in Álava and by 2% in Biscay and Gipuzkoa. Overnight stays were up by 15% in Álava and by 3% in Biscay and 2% in Gipuzkoa. The average stay likewise remained unchanged at rural tourism establishments in 2009 at 2.85 days.

Compared to the other autonomous regions, pending the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE) releasing the final figures for the year, growth in the Basque Country was higher than its neighbours. Basque tourism grew (between January and November) by 8 points more than tourism in Navarra, la Rioja and Castilla y León, and was 12 points up on Cantabria, which has witnessed a downturn in its tourism. Compared to the Spanish average, the Basque Country was 3 points higher than the country overall.

Looking towards the future, the Basque Country has opted to foster tourism based on experience and to continue to encourage excellence in the tourist sector. The Basque Government will also continue to back the sector through grants and subsidies with an emphasis on making the sector more competitive.

Success at Fitur 2011

Furthermore, FITUR - the International Tourist Fair ended yesterday with outstanding figures for the Basque Country stand. The Basque Country, which took the different tourist brands (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Costa Vasca (Basque Coast), Rioja Alavesa, Verde y natural (Green and Natural) to Madrid, showcased its commitment to the new technologies at an event that attracted 200,000 visitors.

The stand also featured the tourism "Ambassadors" campaign, with famous faces that recount their own experiences of the Basque Country. Everything that occurred at the stand can be seen on web television www.tveuskadi.net.

Evolution of Basque tourism in the last two years:

Evolution of tourism in 2009 (compared to 2008)

Month

Inbound tourists

% 09-08

Overnight stays

% 09-08

January

100,983

-15%

182,863

-16%

February

117,488

-15%

201,664

-19%

March.

143,765

-13%

263,829

-14%

April

167,590

+5%

309,181

+8%

May

182,763

0%

333,836

-1%

June

173,675

-4%

322,983

-2%

July

216,140

+1%

422,064

+3%

August

225,929

+2%

484,696

+5%

September

191,903

+2%

359,725

+1%

October.

184,403

+4%

346,564

+3%

November

154,757

+4%

281,894

+3%

December

132,394

+5%

233,910

+3%

TOTAL

1,991,790

-1%

3,509,299

-1%

 

Evolution of tourism in 2010 (compared to 2009)

Month

Inbound tourists

% 10-09

Overnight stays

% 10-09

January

112,615

+12%

195,116

+7%

February

132,087

+12%

235,109

+17%

March.

161,885

+13%

289,054

+10%

April

184,010

+10%

332,265

+7%

May

202,236

+11%

370,443

+11%

June

204,796

+18%

382,277

+18%

July

241,165

+12%

467,594

+11%

August

266,069

+18%

560,371

+16%

September

214,732

+12%

414,777

+15%

October.

206,981

+12%

398,570

+15%

November

161,093

+4%

289,210

+3%

December

151,030

+14%

279,274

+19%

TOTAL

2,238,699

+12.4%

4,214,060

+12.6%

 

Source: Eustat. Survey on tourist establishments of the Basque Country

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  • Pilar Zorrilla (vice. Comercio y Turismo), Isabel Muela (directora de Turismo) y Ana Izaguirre (directora de Basquetour)