Madrid has the highest daily spend per high-end traveller of all Spanish cities, according to a recent study. The daily average expenditure comes at €272 and is fuelled by a large number of tourists from the USA, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

Luxury – or high-end tourism – is one of the segments with the greatest relevance and growth capacity throughout Europe and a key axis in Madrid’s tourism strategy. This was revealed by Madrid‘s Councillor for Tourism, Almudena Maíllo, in June during the presentation of the first European High End Tourism Report, a study promoted by the Spanish association Circulo Fortuny and carried out in collaboration with consultancy firm Bain & Company under the auspices of the Cultural and Creative Industries Association (ECCIA).

The event was a new meeting point for Madrid’s tourism sector to analyse the great potential of this segment to position the capital as a benchmark for high-end tourism.

According to ECCIA, high-end and luxury tourism in Spain is worth approximately €20,000 to €25,000 million euros, mostly from foreign visitors. Around 50 % of the spending of these tourists is on culture, entertainment and shopping and almost 30 % on accommodation.

Spending by high-impact tourists in Spain is four times higher than that of other travellers, and Madrid is the Spanish city with the highest average daily expenditure by these visitors, at €272 euros. The above-the-average figure is supported by Madrid appeal to overseas travellers. In 2019, Madrid attracted 809,409 tourists from the USA, up by 18%. All together, the three Latin-American countries of Mexico, Argentina and Brazil generated a total of 492,265 arrivals during the same year. Travellers from those countries are generally considered high-spenders when coming to Europe. There is also a growing number of travellers from the Middle-East to Madrid, also considered as high-spenders.

In addition to this significant economic impact, this segment brings other direct and indirect benefits ranging from job creation to improving the perception of the overall tourism offer or attracting investment. it also stimulates the

Increase in tax-free sales

Another indicator of the strength of high-end tourism in Madrid is the recovery of tourists’ purchases of tax-free products. According to the ECCIA report, Madrid is the third European city where VAT-free sales have recovered the most. From January to May they grew by 100%, overtaken only by Paris (up 335%) and Milan (up 109%). By country of origin, the recovery of shopping tourism in Madrid has been driven by the spending of visitors from the Persian Gulf (40 %); travellers from Southeast Asia (153 %), who spend the most on average (1,070 euros), and those from the United States (151 %).

Gran Via is a top shopping address for travellers (Photo: LC/Cleverdis)

Although elite travellers – those who have spent at least €40,000 in the last 24 months – make up only 1 % of the total number of high-end tourists to Madrid, their spending accounts for no less than 18% of all sales. Frequent travellers (those who have made more than three trips in the last 24 months) make up 21% of the total and the impact of their presence on shopping represents 28% of all sales.

Culture, art and gastronomy add value to Madrid

The added value that Madrid brings to high-end travellers lies in its powerful artistic and cultural offering. The capital is the Spanish city that hosts the most cultural and leisure events per year, with the added value of having museums of international prestige. As an example, the Reina Sofía Museum is among the ten most visited museums in the world. It is one of the great attractions that motivates people to visit the capital, along with its gastronomy and extensive shopping experience.

The opening of hotels from major international chains and a very dynamic MICE sector are other points in the capital’s favour. More than 60% of the available hotel beds are in Madrid in the luxury and high-end category, with a total of 55,936 beds distributed in four-and five-star hotels. In 2019, five-star establishments was the hotel category with the highest growth, expanding by 17% compared to the previous year.

This evolution contributes to positioning Madrid as a major high-end tourism destination in Europe.

The conclusions from the study will provide Madrid’s tourism sector with new knowledge and tools to develop the luxury sector’s potential, while also providing comparison data with competing destinations. This is a key lever in the new tourism model that the City Council wants to implement for Madrid’s tourism with the target to further develop high-end tourism.

According to Spain National Statistics Institute, total travellers from June 2021 to May 2022 in Madrid reached 6.89 million. It represents a year-on-year increase of 280.5%, higher than the growth for Spain as a whole, which reached 189.6%.

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