The Country on Track to Become the World’s Most Visited

Most visited country in the world Spain

Soon, international tourists may swap Paris for paella. A 2023 report found the country on track to be the most visited in the world by 2025 was France, while another, published this year, determined the country set to top that annual visitor number by 2040 to be Spain.

The 2023 report by Global Data found that France would welcome 93.7 million international travellers annually by 2025. Then, this year, a report NextGen Travelers and Destinations, conducted by Google and Deloitte, forecasted another country to top the world’s most visited list: Spain.

The report found that by 2050, the European country would welcome 110 million tourists annually. France would welcome 105 million, jumping 11.3 million visitors per year in the space of 15 years, and the US would welcome 100 million.

Barcelona best workation city
Image: Getty Images

“Visitation to France and Spain will remain strong in the years to come, with festivals, culture and gastronomy being a big pull for tourists,” said GlobalData’s travel and tourism analyst, Hannah Free, when the 2023 report was published.

“Both countries have a lot to offer visitors, with their own unique cultures, cuisines and atmospheres. Both countries are also relatively large, with a diverse and varied landscape, and each country has its own unique coastline.”

NextGen’s report shared that its goal is to analyse traveller profiles and destinations clusters to help travel operators and distributors anticipate future trends and transform if needed.

Last year, Spain received a record 85.1 million international tourists, 19% more than the year before, according to AP. The visitors were mostly from the UK, France and Germany. The top tourist destinations in the country were the northeastern region of Catalonia, including Barcelona, followed by the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands off North Africa.

Image: Getty Images

In June 2024, Barcelona announced a ban on short-term rentals, including Airbnbs, by November 2028. The city’s mayor Jaume Collboni said it would scrap the licenses of 10,101 apartments currently approved as short-term rentals, reports Sky News. The ban stops rents from rising in the city and fights overtourism.

“More supply of housing is needed, and the measures we’re presenting today are to provide more supply so that the working middle class does not have to leave the city because they can’t afford housing,” Collboni said.

“This measure will not change the situation from one day to the next. These problems take time. But with this measure, we are marking a turning point.”

To cope with swelling visitor numbers in Spain, by the end of 2025, 260 new hotels of different sizes will have opened, half of them in Madrid, Malaga, Valencia and the Canary Islands, according to real estate consultancy CBRE, via Real Instituto El Cano.

The Spanish government has a tourism strategy in place for 2030, which aims to make the country’s tourism “more sustainable, more profitable and higher quality”.

Related: Don’t Pee in the Sea in Spain and 5 Other Illegal Travel No-Nos

Related: Hitting Spain This Euro Summer? 5 New Hotels in the Country to Consider

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