One of the slogans that appeared in Palma last April. | Miquel A. Cañellas


At the Berlin ITB travel fair, the national tourism minister, Álvaro Nadal, said on Wednesday that Spain has always been an open country and its people have taken pride in being good hosts to visitors. He was responding to a journalist who suggested that there is a social rejection of tourist "saturation". Nadal attributed this to political forces rather than social ones and said that "Tourismphobia" was evident in only two regions - Catalonia and the Balearics. Biel Barceló, the Balearic tourism minister, took exception to what Nadal had to say.

Nadal added that work needs to be done in order to prevent tourismphobia from damaging the tourism sector and its competitiveness. He said that tour operators are extremely respectful. They do not consider themselves, he observed, to be responsible for any tourismphobia. There is some concern with this phenomenon, given that the tourism sector is so important to both Spain and Germany. He noted, though, that new hotels are being opened and that more airlines are creating hubs at Palma airport.

He observed that, although the current tourism situation in Spain is favourable, there are some "very important" challenges. In the case of the German market, one is to meet high tourist demand with new products that add value and adapt to market needs. He gave cultural and nature tourism as two examples.

Germany is the third most important market for Spanish tourism behind the UK and France. Last year there were 11.2 million German tourists, almost 15% of all tourists who came to Spain.

The minister referred to there being some "price tension", but added that German tour operator bookings are good. Switching to the UK market, he said that bookings for this year are similar to those in 2016. He accepted that two years of Brexit negotiations may have an impact, emphasising the need to therefore have a long-term perspective. The tourism sector is, he stressed, the Spanish economy's largest exporter.