Foreign tourists and investors invaluable to Spanish economy

The popularity of Spain among foreign tourists and investors looks set to once again be invaluable to the Spanish economy.

In the same week which has revealed that tourists’ spending in the country for March was up 13.7 per cent on the same month last year, there’s also been positive news on the international property investment front.

While the Bank of Spain has released figures showing that property investment from international markets grew by 17 per cent in 2012, we’ve also learned that new residency visas will become available for foreign investors in Spanish property, should a new law be passed in July.

The law would give non-EU citizens automatic residency in Spain, provided they invest more than €500,000 in Spanish property, and sets out a clear message that Spain recognises how invaluable foreign investment is to its economy.

The impact of the scheme on the Spanish economy would be one of great significance, with predictions that foreign investment – particularly from Asia – would increase tenfold. Indeed, coupled with the rising numbers of Chinese tourists holidaying in Spain, it’s predicted that Chinese buyers alone would pour up to €100 million into the country’s property market.

It’s positive news all-round from an international viewpoint in Spain as the news ties in nicely with Eurostat’s information this week revealing Spain is still Europe’s number one holiday destination, accounting for 13 per cent of all outbound EU trips.

However, interestingly, British expats are no longer at the top of the table for foreign investors buying second homes in Spain’s Costa del Sol region – an area renowned for its strong British ties.

Britons have been the country’s biggest property investors (and tourist imports) for years, but in this particular instance have been knocked off the top spot by Russian and Scandinavian investors who, together, now make up 45 per cent of property sales on Spain’s south coast.

Russians being increasingly prominent in Spain is nothing particularly new, as more and more are travelling to Spain for their holidays each year. However, the increase in Russian investors is said to be down to a rise in the Russian middle-class and improving transport links between the two countries.

Marbella, in keeping with its popularity as a tourist destination, is said to be one of the most popular areas for foreign nationals buying property in Spain.

One Spanish estate agent, Lucas Fox, recently revealed that as much as 80 per cent of their property sales in 2012 were sold to non-Spanish clients, with Asian investors said to be particularly keen in Barcelona and Ibiza.

Photo courtesy of: Flickr: International Real Estate Listings under Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

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