Spain DestinationsTravel

by Rose Maramba

Photos of “Visit Spain” Exhibition courtesy of the National Library
unless stated otherwise


According to a number of surveys, Spain is one of the most appreciated countries in the world as far as the quality of its tourism is concerned. According to Internet search engines and because of the number of online searches made, it tops the heap, ahead of Thailand, Macao and Mexico, the other most searched for destinations. According to Bloom Consulting, a firm of consultants specializing in country brands and has analyzed the brand efficiency of 160 countries, next to the United States Spain, the “European tourism powerhouse,” is the world’s “most successful Nation Brand for the Tourism dimension.” Moreover, of the world’s best 99 hotels, as rated by Holiday Check users, six are  Spanish.

Almeria, one of the favorite tourist destinations in Spain (Photo: Benjamin Nuñez, CC BY-SA4.0)

The Spanish government says that with some 61 million international visitors in 2013, Spain, the Eurozone’s fourth largest economy, is back in the number 3 slot in world tourism. It has overtaken China and is next only to France (83 million international tourist arrivals) and the United States (67 million). The tourism industry accounted for 10.9 % of Spain’s total economic output in 2012, and 11.9% of all jobs.

Last year foreign tourist arrivals surged by 5.6%. Tourist spending surged by nearly 9% vis-à-vis the same period in 2012 to €55.9 billion or $76 billion. (Note that this is an eleven-month figure, not the whole year’s.)

As alluded above, the income from foreign tourists is a major contribution to the Spanish economy, which has just emerged from a five year double-dip recession that has left the country with a 26% unemployment rate . More than 23% of all foreign tourists who came to Spain in 2013 were British (+14 million),  +16% were Germans , nearly 16% were French, and 8% were Nordic. Although the Russians made up only 3% of all the foreign tourists, they made the biggest leap, their number soaring by nearly 32% from 2012.

The foreign tourists’ favorite destinations in Spain in 2013 were Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

Some forecasts say the Spanish tourism industry will grow by 1.8% in 2014.


world tourism & tourism council logoSays the World Travel and Tourism Council, a global forum for the travel and tourism industry: “Every trip that is taken helps to boost our global economy by trillions of dollars and supports 260 million jobs worldwide. That’s almost 1 in 11 of all the jobs on our planet. So, thanks for playing your part in Travel & Tourism – one of the world’s greatest industries.”


Given the above, the exhibition at the National Library of Spain titled “Visit Spain: The Rescued Memory (Visite España. La memoria rescatada),” on Paseo de Recolectos 20-22 in Madrid, is likely to prove interesting to many. After all, Spain is a major player in global tourism. The following is the National Library’s announcement of the exhibition which will be up until 18 May 2014 and a related conference due 5 March.

Visit Spain: The Rescued Memory

The exhibition, dedicated to the origins of  tourism in our country, comprises nearly two hundred works, many of them unpublished and should be of great help in understanding the trajectory of the tourist industry in Spain since the first half of the twentieth century. The exhibition is curated by Carolina Miguel Arroyo  of the National Museum of Romanticism, Department of Collections.

Invitation to the "Visit Spain" conference at the National Library

Invitation to the “Visit Spain” conference at the National Library

In conjunction with “Visit Spain: The Rescued Memory,” the National Library is organizing a  two-pronged conference by experts in the history of tourism in Spain, to be presented and moderated by María Teresa Ríos Reviejo of the National Library’s Department of Fine Arts and Cartography.

Dr. Ana Moreno Garrido, who is a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid with an expertise in historical tourism, especially in the first third of the twentieth century, will talk on “Deconstructing the Romantic Myth and the Construction of Modern Tourism.” This part of the conference deals with the keys to building the tourism industry up to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Note that during this period the country had ceased to be the quintessential romantic destination for tourists and was faced with the enormous challenge posed by modern tourism.

The National Library

The National Library (Photo: R. Maramba)

The other prong is expounded by Professor José Antonio Rodríguez Esteban of the  Department of Geography at the Autonomous University of Madrid, and is about  “Geography and Tourism in the Geographic Society of Madrid (1845-1936).” It talks of the evolution of this institution which was established in 1876 to enable Spain to join the discussions on European colonialism, the knowledge of the natural world, and the sense of progress.

Professor Rodríguez Esteban is an expert in modern geographic tradition with emphasis on colonial processes and the actions taken by the geographic societies especially in Africa.



The Visit Spain Exhibition

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gran canaria

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Sevilla 1928

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Exposicion Internacional de Barcelona 1929

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