Spain has played a major role in growth tourism in Western Europe. The country is versatile is several different types of holiday in a relatively small geographical space. This is reflected by the fact that tourism is the third largest industry in the country, and Spain has the second largest tourist industry in the world. One of the major factors for the country’s success as a tourist destination is its Mediterranean climate. The long hot summer months make it a tempting destination for those people in other areas of Western Europe where the heat is not guaranteed in their own country.
Tourism first started to grow in the country in the late 1960s as people flocked to the country to take advantage of its beaches, the sea and the climate. The country benefits from excellent transport networks and this has been intensively developed since this period. The first type of tourists attracted into Spain came to the Mediterranean coastline, the Atlantic coastline, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. The main nation attracted were the British with them making up 24% of all of the foreign arrivals. This explosion of visitors led to these areas conducting huge building projects, with airports being developed, and numerous hotels being built. Up until the 1960s Bendiorm was a small fishing village but then the tourists arrived and the town now has a population of 69,000 people. It has the most high rise buildings per-capita in the world. The town offers three great beaches and an intense night life, and has the reputation of being the summer city of Spain.
As well as the country being attractive as a sea and beach destination it is also widely visited by people wishing to see the major cities, in particular Barcelona and Madrid. Madrid being the capital of the country is an obvious destination for people to visit. People who visit Madrid do so for art and cultural reasons. It is one of the best destinations in Europe for the quality of its art museums, with the famous “Golden Triangle of Art” being located along the Paseo del Prado. The three art museums located here are considered by many as among the best in the world. Other museums, galleries, and stadiums have made the capital city a top destination for visitors coming to the country. Madrid has responded and has numerous restaurants, theatres, cafes, hotels and shopping arcades that cater to the desires of foreign tourists.
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and like the Capital City is now attracting more and more tourists. This has not always been the case as it grew as mainly an industrial city. However, events such as the 1992 Olympic Games brought the city to the world’s attention and now the city is appreciated for its cultural significance in the region. Like many modern cities it has a rich entertainment industry and the nigh life of the city attracts many young visitors. Its role as the leading city of Catalonia has given it extra significance, and its museums and art galleries pay extra attention to the arts and artefacts associated with this particular region of Spain. The city is currently seen as one of the leading cities economically in Europe and has the highest employment rate in the country.
It is rather strange that a country that grew its tourist industry on a Mediterranean climate also has a strong and successful ski industry. There are ski resorts in the Pyrenees, Sistema Central, Sierra Navada, and Sistema Iberico. The region acts as a border with France with Andorra being neatly tucked away in the region. The ski regions are quite unique as they offer the winter sport so far south. The main advantage is that people can often ski in quite warm conditions.
The tourist industry has well as important in itself kick started the improved transport infrastructure in the country. Fast roads, high speed rail routes and modern day airports are all a feature of the country and have been created as a result of the tourist industry.