Logo Guide to Business in Spain

3State incentives for specific industries

3.2. Tourist industry

A) Sustainable Tourism Strategy for Spain 2030

Against the backdrop of the European Union and the corresponding economic and social convergence, and in a competitive environment characterized by the globalization of supply and demand and business internationalization, the Spanish tourist industry is seeking to continue to strengthen its leadership position based on quality.

Following the approval at the time of the Spanish Tourism Plan Horizon 2020, which defined the strategy for preparing and adapting the Spanish tourist industry and attaining a balanced increase in the social and economic benefits of tourism, the future Sustainable Tourism Strategy for Spain 2030 is currently in the process of being drawn up, its main objective being to redefine the tourist development model so as to redirect the foundation of Spanish tourism toward a model of sustained and sustainable growth, enabling Spain to maintain its global leadership position.

In particular, this new tourism model is based on enhancing competitive capacity and profitability, protecting the natural and cultural values of the different tourist destinations and on the equitable distribution of the benefits and burdens of the tourism activity.

To this end, according to the information available to date, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy for Spain 2030 is instrumented around 5 strategic areas:

  1. Collaborative governance, with the aim of setting up participation areas for all public and private actors on the tourism stage, also increasing Spanish influence on international organizations, with the following lines of action:
    • Bolstering existing governance tools, and authorizing new mechanisms that enable management among the different levels of the public authorities, the private sector and social agents.
    • Developing territorial policy, through agreements between the central government and the autonomous community governments, as well as forums for meetings between the different public authorities.
    • Increasing Spain’s international influence through tourism, within the European Union, enabling it to lead the agenda, debates and legislative output, as well as in international bodies.
  2. Sustainable growth, aiming to boost a balanced development of the industry throughout Spain, to foster the industry’s sustainability, to diversify demand and to reduce the negative externalities of tourism, through the following actions:
    • Driving the balanced development of tourism in the territory, taking advantage of the country’s diversity and strengthening inland tourism, paying special attention to areas at risk of depopulation.
    • Promoting sustainability as a brand value of Spanish tourism, guiding tourism activity toward the circular economy, environmental protection and clean energy use.
    • Sustaining demand by combining initiatives that enable demand to be diversified in new markets or segments in traditional markets, and developing new tourism products and digitalizing the sector. Reducing the negative externalities of tourism activity through formulas that balance society’s common interest and the interests of companies and destinations.
  3. Competitive transformation of the industry, emphasizing public-private forms of partnership, especially to foster digital transformation and the use of technological capacities, through such lines of action as:
    • Strengthening the public-private ecosystem supplying – within the scope of operations of each public or private agent – knowledge, programs and resources in this regard.
    • Deploying a digital strategy for the tourism industry, specially targeted at SMEs and destinations, with a view to adapting to the requirements of connected tourism and increasing the efficiency of local public management.
    • Developing the public standards for the digital transformation, establishing a common framework acceptable to public and private players.
    • Fostering the adaptation of existing regulations to the new tourism environment, through the joint work of international, national, autonomous community or local bodies and institutions.
  4. Acting on the tourist area, enterprises and persons, protecting heritage and making progress on the construction of infrastructures and on the digitalization of all territories, while enhancing the quality and competitiveness of enterprises in the tourist industry (most of which are SMEs) and of jobs in tourism, based on actions consisting of:
    • Equipping the territory with new capabilities, infrastructure and management resources, thereby enabling a solid and diverse value proposition to be offered throughout the territory.
    • Boosting the quality of Spanish tourism, focusing efforts on improving competitive capacity, productivity, profitability, innovation, inclusivity and sustainability.
    • Promoting higher quality tourism jobs that make it possible, through a suitable certification or qualification, to offer an environment of trust to traders and workers.
  5. Working on the tourist product, marketing and intelligence, with a view to fostering quality tourism, the diversification of demand and the opening of new markets, with the following lines of action:
    • Enhancing tourism promotion strategies differentiated according to type of source market, enabling Spain to maintain its position in its target markets, while increasing penetration into emerging long-distance markets.
    • Developing a unique, dynamic and competitive value proposition, focused on serving new niches of demand by promoting products and destinations that generate added value and differentiation.
    • Developing a tourism intelligence data-based model, enabling comprehensive management in decision-making through the incorporation of new data sources.
    • Reinforcing the digital marketing strategy that optimizes the impact of investment in advertising.

To this end, at its plenary meeting held on October 10, 2022, the Spanish Tourism Council (CONESTUR) approved the following eight levers or pillars on which it proposes to base the first phase of the Sustainable Tourism Strategy described above:

  • Boosting digitalization aimed at cost savings, the data economy, enhanced promotion and sales and competitiveness.
  • Social sustainability, which focuses on implementing specific actions to promote the conservation of natural environments, customs and the local traditional way of life.
  • Environmental sustainability, which seeks to reduce the ecological footprint of the sector.
  • Enhancing connectivity, intermodality and tourism mobility to improve the visitor’s experience and respond to environmental challenges.
  • Innovation in tourism experiences and products.
  • Recruiting, training and retaining talent to boost the human factor as a key element of the tourism experience.
  • Adaptation of different tourist destinations (mature, consolidated and emerging destinations) to plan and better manage the different needs of each one.

B) Tourism industry promotion plan: toward a safe and sustainable tourism

It is also important to note the importance that the approval in June 2020 of the “Tourism industry promotion plan: toward a safe and sustainable tourism” has had in revitalizing the industry following the COVID-19 crisis.

This plan had a total financial allocation of €4.262 billion to be distributed over a time horizon that runs from 2020 to 2024 and is basically structured around the following 5 major pillars:

  1. Restoring trust in the destination: for a 360º safe destination

    To this end, the plan established measures consisting of (i) guidelines on how to reduce infection in the tourism industry, (ii) adapting public transportation as a safe mode of transportation; (iii) establishing the “Safe Tourism” logo, to highlight establishments that comply with the guidelines; and (iv) “safe tourism corridor” programs associated, at the time, with the lifting of border and travel restrictions depending on the different waves of the pandemic.

  2. Measures to revitalize the industry

    Precisely, the initial uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic and the debt that many tourism companies have been forced to take on spurred the adoption of new measures to revitalize the industry, including most notably, among others, certain employment measures (particularly temporary layoff procedures – “ERTEs” – due to force majeure events, which were extended until March 2022) or certain training, skills development and mentoring programs specifically for workers in the tourism industry, in subjects like safety, hygiene and vocational retraining (“SCTE Safe Destination” Tourism Host Program, Tourism training program with FUNDAE, Specific plan for retraining and updating of occupational qualifications relating to hospitality and tourism, etc.).

  3. Improving tourism destination competitiveness

    The tourism industry needs to adapt to the new global trends in favor of digitalization and sustainability, which are not only redefining the traveler profile, but also how trips are planned and booked, as well as how they are enjoyed and shared. To this end, the adoption of the following measures was proposed:

    • The creation of a State Financial Fund for Tourism Competitiveness, for funding projects aimed at improving the competitiveness of tourism companies and accelerating their transformation to a more sustainable and digital model.
    • The creation of a line of financing aimed at the implementation of projects for digitalization, innovation and internationalization in the tourism industry.
    • Tourism Sustainability at Destination Plan Program, with a total budget set at €508 million (until 2023) and intended for national, autonomous community and local levels of tourism management and aimed at pioneering and rural destinations or inland destinations.
    • Strengthening the network of intelligent tourism destinations, based on technological infrastructure and which ensure sustainable development and with a total budget of €75,000,000 for the 2020-2023 period.
    • “Fair, labor responsible hotels” program.
  4. Improving the Comprehensive Knowledge Model

    It is considered that the current production and information collection model in relation to the performance and functioning of the tourism industry in Spain should be strengthened and the benefits offered by the digital transformation harnessed. For this reason, a firm commitment is made to a new tourism information and knowledge system enhanced by through (i) the analysis of international demand by enhancing market information; (ii) the strengthening of the Tourism Intelligence System for analyzing national supply and demand; or (iii) the creation of a tourism data viewer.

  5. Marketing and promotion

    As key parameters for re-positioning Spain as a safe and sustainable destination, both nationally and internationally, there are plans to launch, among other initiatives, so-called TURESPAÑA 2020-2024 Marketing Plan with the aim of analyzing Spain’s situation and image as a tourism destination based on a sociological research study in the main European markets and distant source markets. To this end, it will be endowed with a budget of €33,300,000 for the 2020-2024 period.

    All of these initiatives have also received an additional boost as a result of their inclusion in the reforms and investments described in Component no. 14 of the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan specifically devoted to the modernization and competitiveness of the tourism industry with an anticipated public investment of €2.399 billion over the 2021–2023 period. According to the information released by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Destination, midway through the Plan’s implementation period, 44% of the funds allocated have already been authorized and the budget for 2023 is still above €1 billion, of which a large part will be allocated to implementing the above-mentioned Tourism Sustainability at Destination Plans.