MADRID – Spain in 2012 was, after France, the country where foreign tourists spent the most money and it is continuing to consolidate its image as a shopping destination, above all among tourists from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
This is one of the conclusions of a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization released on Wednesday based on figures compiled by the Global Blue consulting firm that indicate tourists in 2012 spent about $1 billion on purchases in Spain, of which 48 percent was concentrated in Barcelona and 31 percent in Madrid.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said during the presentation of the report that shopping has become a secondary reason for tourism and has become an important factor in tourists’ destination decisions.
For that reason, currently, it has become a key competitive factor in cities, given that it spurs economic growth and the creation of jobs.
The UNWTO emphasized that tourists from China are those who spent the most on international trips, laying down $129 billion worldwide, 26 percent more than during the previous year.
The authors of the report emphasized that in Europe there is great competition in attracting Chinese tourists, something that in Spain is made more complicated by the difficulties Chinese citizens have in getting a visa and the few transportation connections with the Asian giant.
Meanwhile, the director of the UNWTO’s Affiliated Members Program, Yolanda Perdomo, said that stimulating shopping tourism requires cooperation between the public and private sectors to facilitate innovation and the exchange of information, and there must be a clearly defined policy that is much more focused on attracting and serving international visitors.