Tourism as a strategic sector in times of crisis and development of the Spanish economy

Rocío Muñoz Benito


Tourism is a key sector in the Spanish economy which has served since the sixties as a compensating element of the balance of payments, a driving force of other activities such as construction and an important source of foreign exchange at crucial moments in the History of Spain. However tourism behaviour presents peculiarities in times of crisis that deserve further study.

The goal of this research is to show the role played by tourism in major crises in Spain since 1959. Using Leandro Prados de la Escosura (2003) as reference, the criteria of negative GDP growth has been used as a milestone to date the four major crises that have marked economic developments in Spain since the 1959 Stabilization Plan, which correspond to 1959, 1981, 1993 and 2008.

First of all the importance of Tourism is quantified, analyzing its historical evolution and its contribution to economic recovery in the various stages mentioned above; then the effects on tourism demand resulting from adverse circumstances in other destinations and the substitution effect are discussed and, finally, the life cycle of tourist activity in Spain is analyzed and some guidelines or recommendations on its future developments are highlighted. 


tourism, economic crises, balance of payments, economic sectors, Spanish economy

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