Spain/Tourism boom in Valencia: assessment and outlook for a changing city

Published on 29/02/2024 | La rédaction


With more than 2.3 million travelers welcomed between January and December 2023, Valencia's impressive figures testify to its growing appeal as a tourist destination. But this is not without its challenges.

Deputy Mayor for Tourism, Innovation and Investment, Paula Llobet, in collaboration with Tono Franco, Director of Visit Valencia, revealed this data at a recent presentation of the city's tourism balance sheet.

Valencia on the upswing: international tourism and profitability on the rise

According to Visit Valencia data, in 2023, Valencia welcomed 1,261,464 international visitors and 1,058,082 domestic visitors, with a notable 7.9% increase in overnight stays for foreign visitors. It is estimated that this influx of travelers generated an 18% increase in the city's tourism profitability, accompanied by a 5% rise in the total number of visitors and a 1.4% increase in overnight stays over the past year.

All these figures highlight the vital role played by tourism in the Valencian economy, and testify to the growing popularity of Spain's third-largest city on the international scene. They also invite us to reflect on the challenges that such a trend entails in terms of infrastructure, services and preservation of local culture.

Extended seasons and expanding new markets

A particularly interesting aspect of the 2023 review is the "deseasonalization" of tourism in Valencia, with a more even distribution of overnight stays throughout the year. This is an encouraging trend, as it suggests a lessening of the peaks in visitor numbers that put pressure on the city's resources and services. It also tends to demonstrate Valencia's ability to attract visitors beyond the traditional vacation seasons. Another notable fact is that "emerging" tourist markets, such as Germany and the United States, have shown a growing interest in Valencia, with a significant increase in overnight stays from these nationalities.

"We are at a decisive moment, when the city must not give up on growth, but must do so in a sustained and sustainable manner", stressed Deputy Mayor Paula Llobet. This is precisely the aim of Valencia's 2024-2028 Strategic Plan. Focusing on sustainability, innovation and participatory governance, it aims to maximize the positive impact of tourism while preserving the quality of life of citizens and the city's cultural and natural heritage.

The Strategic Plan for "low-impact" tourism

"The development and implementation of the 2024-2028 Strategic Plan will involve a participatory governance process, involving the various departments of Valencia City Council and public entities, the local entrepreneurial sector and citizen representatives," said Visit Valencia director Tono Franco. In addition to this principle of participatory governance, Valencia's tourism model focuses on a proactive and anticipatory approach, aimed not only at meeting current challenges but also at preventing future problems linked to the influx of tourists.

This municipal strategy emphasizes the selection of low-impact markets and encourages eco-responsible tourism. This is not without its challenges, however, as it presupposes the precise identification and effective targeting of traveler segments aligned with sustainability principles; in practice, this is proving complex and subject to limitations in terms of implementation and tangible results.

Combining sustainability and economic development

Valencia aspires to position itself not only as an attractive place for tourists, but also as a privileged place to live and invest. This ambition is underpinned by a tourism policy that aims to reconcile economic development with respect for the environment. Despite its commitments to the integration of tourism, innovation, and the conservation and enhancement of Valencia's heritage, the Strategic Plangique 2024-2028 faces the challenges inherent in the delicate balance between these aspirations and the often conflicting realities of a rapidly expanding tourism industry.


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