The number of UK tourists visiting Spain in the key summer month of July declined more than 5% this year as the destination saw its first fall in overall visitors for nine years.
In a further sign of holidaymakers moving back to the eastern Med, Turkey’s total international arrivals in July went up by 11.7% to reach 5.7 million.
Spain welcomed 9.98 million international tourists in July, down by 4.9% on the same month in 2017. The UK remained its top market with 2.2 million arrivals, despite the 5.6% year-on-year decline.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s UK arrivals rose 27.6% to 355,000 in July – up from 278,000 in July 2017. In the year to August, the number of British visitors to Turkey has increased 37% to 1.2 million.
Spain remains the top destination for major UK operators, including Tui and Thomas Cook, but an increase in hotel costs has eaten into their margins. This has led to more demand for other destinations like Turkey, Greece and Croatia where margins are higher.
Turkey is also benefiting from a 40% fall in the lira’s value since the start of the year. But one factor holding back growth has been a reduction in airline capacity following Monarch’s demise in October 2017.
Akin Koc, managing director of Diamond Sky Holidays, said: “There’s so much demand that flight prices have been really high - even in low season - because nobody has filled the gap left by Monarch.
I hope another independent airline will come into the market for next year as there’s definitely space for another airline with such strong demand.”