In June 2015 the IMF raised its growth forecast for Spain for the second time in three months and predicted 3.1% expansion the year, double the Eurozone average of 1.5%. In the first half of 2015 exports were up 4.9% on 2014, to an all-time record high of US$134.40 million (125.12 million euros), 70% to other EU countries and 30% outside the EU. At the end of 2014, business starts-ups were at a six-year high of 120,000.
And tourism, a fundamental building block of the Spanish economy, has recovered all the losses of the downturn and forged ahead to new record levels. Tourism is an important factor in the property market—the great majority of foreign property owners in Spain start out as tourists.
So how is tourism today, compared to pre-crash? In 2013 Spain broke through the 60-million-visitor barrier and became the third-most-visited country in the world, behind France and the United States. It maintained this ranking in 2014 with 65 million foreign visitors. The total revenue from Spain’s travel and tourism sector in 2014 was US$214 billion, representing 15.2% of the GDP and accounting for 15.3% of national employment. Both these percentages are higher today than in the previous peak year of 2007. Tourism from the United States to Spain rose 25% in summer 2015, no doubt helped by a stronger U.S. dollar.